National pledge concerns

The National Pledge Controversy

Opinion piece by Ben Freeth, executive director, Mike Campbell Foundation

13 May 2016

Children across the nation of Zimbabwe are being called to say the National Pledge.  It goes: 

“Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, I salute the national flag. Respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost lives in the Chimurenga/Umvukela. We are proud inheritors of the richness of our natural resources. We are proud creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures. So I commit to honesty and the dignity of hard work.”

I am very troubled by the pledge – and the fact that some heads of schools are getting our children to learn and say the pledge.  As Christian parents we have asked our own children to desist from saying the pledge.

1.       We as parents have the right under our Constitution to determine the moral or religious upbringing of our children and if the Minister - or the school by their blind obedience to the Minister - overrides that by asking our children to learn and say the pledge without first consulting us as the parents they are acting unethically and perhaps unlawfully as well.

2. The Constitution prohibits the taking of oaths that are contrary to our beliefs [section 60(2)].  Schools need to therefore send out circulars to the parents of our children asking parents if they consent to the learning and saying of the pledge - otherwise those individual school heads are acting unlawfully.

Further to that:

.Praying to our God and saluting the flag in the same breath do not equate together.  God is Almighty and perfect  but our flag is not. A new debate about our flag is necessary.  Our flag has symbolism associated with it which I believe is evil and not Godly.

.The communist star at the center of our flag is symbolic of nationalization of private property, the denial of God, totalitarianism and oppression. Communism has failed everywhere. Do we really want our children to salute that?

.The Zimbabwe bird on the communist star is a flightless bird and as such does not signify freedom.  The specific Zimbabwe bird that was chosen is the same one that has the crocodile [gushungo] climbing up its plinth.  I believe there is something very sinister in the spiritual symbolism about a crocodile crawling up to a flightless bird.  It does not symbolize the kind of freedom any right thinking parent wants their children to salute.

.The black stripe in the center is symbolic of the black people. But God also created other people too – and there is no symbolism for other ethnic groups in the country.  The fact that over 90 percent of white people have fled Zimbabwe since the flag was first raised appears to symbolize the ongoing policy that the Zimbabwe Government does not want white people to remain citizens of  Zimbabwe.  Our own children had their home invaded and burnt down for the simple crime that they were white. Saluting racial discrimination is wrong.

.The red stripes either side of the black one are the symbol of the blood that was spilt in the “chimurenga.”  Honouring and “respecting” the deeds of people who shed the blood of innocent victims is macabre and evil.  The fact that over 20,000 more innocent victims were killed in the Gukurahundi genocide soon after the flag was raised speaks of the further bloodletting that such symbolism promotes.  The killing of innocent people should never be something a child or anyone else should honour or respect. Our own children had their grandfather beaten by state agents so badly that he never recovered and later died.  They cannot be expected to salute murder.

.We do not believe that being “proud” inheritors or creators is in keeping with the Christian faith.  Pride and arrogance are at the root of our sin in the nation.  Moses, who led the people out of slavery was “the most humble man who ever lived.”  Jesus, the Son of God, showed the most amazing humility that the World will ever see.  Rather, we must teach our children to be humble and thankful inheritors of this earth – doing their absolute best to be creative in a humble way. 

Most critically, I believe that as Christians we need to ask ourselves if it is in fact against our faith – and therefore sinful - to say such a pledge.   If the pledge is sinful and we allow it to be repeated by millions of children every day without us as  Christian leaders and parents protesting it and saying no, will God honour our country or our church in the next generation?

These are the days of Daniel in Zimbabwe.  We need to follow the example of Daniel in the Bible.  Daniel risked all and did what was right in God’s sight - and not man’s.  It is time we all took a stand and refused to follow this NAZIesque decree to say the pledge