The Constitutional Court yesterday postponed indefinitely an application by a Harare man seeking to challenge the government’s decision compelling all schoolchildren to recite the national pledge following indications that Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora was engaged in consultative meetings with various churches.
The application was filed by a father (name withheld) of three school-going children, who is a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe (AFM).
In his application, the man argued the national pledge was a prayer which exalted various secular phenomena, including the national flag, mothers and fathers who lost their lives during the liberation struggle.
Through his lawyer David Hofisi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the man further argued the national pledge was unconstitutional and against his religious beliefs and as such, did not want his children to recite it.
However, when the matter was set to be heard by a full bench, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku pointed out that the Registrar had received correspondence from the Attorney-General (AG)’s Office seeking postponement of the matter on the basis of ongoing consultations.
Part of the letter addressed to the Registrar Constitutional Court by one M Chimombe of the AG’s Office read: “. . . The basis for seeking a postponement is that our client, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, is currently engaged in consultative meetings with various churches, who have raised their concerns regarding the national pledge. The leadership of the applicant’s church is among the churches that are being engaged. We believe the engagement will resolve the matter that is before the court.”
But Hofisi was reluctant to have the matter postponed as his client had nothing to do with the on-going consultations.
Hofisi further said since the AG’s Office official dealing with the matter had suffered bereavement, he had no option, but to concede to the application sought by prosecutor Olivia Zvedi.
The matter was postponed indefinitely and parties directed to approach the Registrar for a new set-down date after 30 days.