National pledge goes to Concourt

Parent unhappy with national pledge, goes to Concourt

The Herald - Fungai Lupande Court Reporter

16 April 2016

Lawyers for Human Rights yesterday filed an application at the Constitutional Court against the (new) national pledge on behalf of a father of three school-going children who doesn’t want his children to recite the pledge.

In the application, the man (name withheld for professional reasons), argues that the pledge is unconstitutional and against his religious beliefs.

He submitted that the national pledge is a prayer which exalts various secular phenomena including the national flag and mothers and fathers who lost their lives in the liberation struggle.

This, he said, is not his understanding of prayer shared by his faith, which reserved worship to God alone. The words of the national pledge are:

“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.”

The respondents are the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the headmaster of Mashambanhaka Secondary School, the headmaster Chizungu Primary School and the Attorney-General of Zimbabwe (Prince Machaya).

''I am the father and guardian of three minor children (one 15 years old), a Form Three student at Mashambanhaka Secondary School,” reads the application.

''(One 11 years old) a Grade Six pupil at Chizungu Primary School and (another one seven years old) enrolled for his Early Childhood Development (ECD) at Chizungu Primary School.

''I am a devout Christian and a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe (AFM) denomination. My whole family shares this faith and attends services together every Sunday without fail.

''On 23 March 2016, the closing day for schools, my daughter informed me that her teacher, a Mr Chifamba, had given them a pledge, which was to be memorised and recited at the beginning of the next school term on 3 May 2016.''

He added that he received the national school pledge for all his schoolchildren.

''Needless to say, I was not pleased by this development. My primary objection to the pledge is on the grounds of religion,” he said.

''Based on the tenets of my faith, I am not permitted to worship or pray to anything or anyone other than God. It is my conviction that the divinely inspired and written word of God is the complete rule for faith and practice,” read the application.

''As currently formulated, the national pledge confuses honour, with worship, thereby causing offence to my convictions.

''Even if one argues that the pledge is not a prayer, it is still a religious observance covered by the provisions relating to freedom of conscience in the Constitution.

''The national pledge takes a position regarding the question of existence and identity of a deity. It is religious beyond reasonable doubt.”

He added that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has, through the pledge, endorsed monotheistic faiths and those that permit and allow for the secular salutations in the presence of Almighty God in prayer.

''This is needlessly exclusionary to those who do not share that construction of faith,'' he said.

''In other words, the national pledge requires that schoolchildren declare a belief whilst communicating by word the acceptance of political ideas.

''The mere recitation of the national pledge will thus amount to a repudiation of our religious values and, in essence, will amount to a public announcement that we do not belong.

''Concordantly, those of us who do not share the faith as formulated in the pledge will be cast as unpatriotic even though we respect our culture and national heritage but only do not wish to do so in a religious context.''

''Religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy for it to be distorted by State-formulated prayer and State endorsement,'' said the man.

''Given the age and manipulability of schoolchildren, particularly within the confined environment of a classroom, this policy is likely to convey a message of endorsement of monotheistic faith of the nature contemplated by the pledge and a rejection of all others,” he said.


The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has introduced what it calls a ‘National Pledge’ which according to the Ministry officials should be recited by the students daily before they begin lessons ‘just as they recite the Lord’s Prayer and then sing the National Anthem’. The Ministry has also reported that this pledge shall begin on the opening of schools for 2016 second term and to show their seriousness schools are already forced to ensure that they teach the students the pledge.

Whilst the idea of a National Pledge is laudable by some sections of our society, it needs to be categorically made clear that this National Pledge violates both the Biblical teachings and principles as well as the Constitutional Rights of children.

(As indicated earlier), the words of the National Pledge are:

“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.”

1. By way of definition, a pledge is a solemn promise, a vow, a commitment, an oath, a covenant, a bond, a guarantee. A pledge or commitment is physical as it is emotional and spiritual.

So the Ministry is forcing children to make an oath and a vow and the truth is these children are below the majority age and our Constitution and laws say they are below the age of consent and they are not in the age where they can make vows and oaths.

2. This pledge/vow/oath/covenant, they are making it to the Almighty God and this presents two critical issues.

a) Firstly, God through His Word the Bible clearly instructed us Christians NOT TO SWEAR. By forcing the children to swear, the Minister is forcing them to commit a SIN before God and unfortunately the wages of sin is death (Roman 6 v 23) and those wages will be on the children not on the Ministry. In Leviticus 19 v 22 it says “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD.”

In Matthew 5 v 33 – 37 Jesus Christ said “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”

In James 5 v 12 the Bible says “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

b) Apart from the act of the pledge on its own being a sinful act before God, the Ministry is putting our children under the curse because Biblically when you make a covenant you should keep it. These children because of their age and because of lack of understanding, they are likely not to keep or abide by the pledge’s committals and thus they become cursed. This is a double curse considering that just by making the oath they have subjected themselves to a curse.

3. Constitutionally this ‘National Pledge’ violates children’s rights as Chapter 2 Section 19 Subsection (3)(b) of the Constitution clearly stipulates that “The State must take appropriate legislative and other measures to ensure that children are not required or permitted to perform work or provide services that are inappropriate for the children’s age; or place at risk the children’s well–being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development.”

4. This ‘pledge’ further violates the Constitution’s Fundamental Human Rights especially the Right to Freedom of Conscience as elaborated in Chapter 4 Section 60 (2) which says “No person may be compelled to make an oath that is contrary to their religion or belief or take an oath in a manner that is contrary to their religion or belief.”

That section of the Constitution further puts a burden on the parents and guardians to ensure that minor children have the right to determine, in accordance with their beliefs, the moral and religious upbringing of their children. Spread the gospel and send this message to all you know...