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Zanu PF lacks moral authority on schools national pledge

By Gift Phiri

There has been much debate about the national pledge which compels millions of our schoolchildren to daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty and reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in Zimbabwe’s heritage and future.

Gift Phiri is a News Editor at the Daily News
Gift Phiri is a News Editor at the Daily News

Let me state from the onset, I see nothing sinful about saying a pledge, as long as the pledge does not take away from our commitment to the Lord Jesus.

It seems the furore has been over freedom of expression and conscience arguments. In fact, the opprobrium appears to centre on an unpopular Zanu PF government that has vandalised the economy and is accused of mass murder, leading the process.

Critics have thrown every epithet at the national pledge, from “unconstitutional” to “apostasy”, “paganism” and “heresy”. These labels have sought to polarise the debate about a national pledge which is completely consistent with our national character.

After carefully reading the national pledge, it certainly does not contain any wording that would usurp the authority of Christ in our lives. The Bible does not forbid the pledging of allegiance to our nation and its sacrifices.

The saying goes “where there is no vision the people perish”. And we will surely perish if we do not have these goals, objectives and ideals instilled in us from an early age.

The question in contention here is how this government formulated this “vision”. There was no consultation whatsoever with stakeholders.

The national pledge was just imposed. That’s my bone of contention with Education minister Lazarus Dokora, who argues the national pledge is in fact a derivative from the new Constitution, overwhelmingly passed by 95 percent of Zimbabweans in a referendum in 2013.

Amid mass hunger and skyrocketing unemployment largely seen as a spin-off of the unpopular Mugabe government’s toxic policies, it was inevitable that there was likely to be mass resistance to this.

Almost a decade earlier, the late educationist and author Solomon Mutsvairo wrote the words to the Zimbabwe national anthem, unashamedly reflecting the Zimbabwean sacrifice for its hard-fought independence that fills many with emotion and pride every time it is sung. There was no furore!

It is simply astonishing to hear all the criticism of what should be an uncontroversial national pledge.

A pledge is a formalised promise, and there is nothing wrong with making a promise. When a couple gets married, they exchange vows, pledging faithfulness to each other.

When a witness takes the stand in a courtroom, he promises to tell the truth. And when a person lays a hand over his heart and recites the pledge to the flag, he is promising loyalty to his country, recognising that we are all under God.

To pledge one’s allegiance to a country is to subject oneself to that country’s rule and promise to abide by its laws. The national pledge is simply a promise to be a good citizen of Zimbabwe.

Being a good citizen is a Christian duty.

Where the education of the young is not taken seriously and the proper moral ideals and behaviours are not instilled in the young, it creates a cocktail of disaster.  There is nothing peculiar about this pledge; it is standard fare in most countries, even the US.

There is nothing wrong in instilling the idea of Zimbabweans nationalism in pupils, but the question here is who is leading the campaign.

We should start using it at the beginning of Cabinet and parliamentary sessions, in government meetings at local levels, and meetings held by even private organisations, not just in schools.

The issue is: this questionable government synonymous with plunder and mass murder was never supposed to lead this process.

The national pledge was perhaps supposed to be spearheaded by an eminent clergyman; I can bet there would not have been all this controversy, largely coming from the political opposition. Pledging allegiance to the flag is but a form of paying respect and honour to our country, as we are commanded to do.

Jesus obviously acknowledged that civil government plays a role in this earthly realm. To the extent that our government is our “Caesar,” we render it the proper respect—paying our taxes and obeying the laws of the land.

But the fact remains, the Zanu PF government has no moral authority whatsoever to lead this national pledge, which commendably seeks to instil the proper moral ideals and behaviours in the young, period! Daily News