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‘Include Gukurahundi in national pledge’

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MUTASA Central MP, Trevor Saruwaka (MDC-T) has suggested that Gukurahundi atrocities in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces must also be included in the controversial national school pledge currently being recited by schoolchildren, ostensibly to instil a sense of patriotism.

MUTASA Central MP, Trevor Saruwaka (MDC-T) has suggested that Gukurahundi atrocities in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces must also be included in the controversial national school pledge currently being recited by schoolchildren, ostensibly to instil a sense of patriotism.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

trevor saruwaka

Saruwaka made the proposal yesterday when Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora appeared before the Never Khanye-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture to explain the introduction of the national pledge.

Dokora had defended the pledge saying it was derived from the Constitution, which was crafted by MPs and supported during the referendum.

“Realising there is a big outcry by parents, who are the major stakeholders over the introduction of the national pledge, would your ministry consider taking the matter of the national pledge to a referendum, so people decide whether they like it as it impacts on religious beliefs of families?” Saruwaka asked.

“The pledge has lines on those who died during the Chimurenga, and would you consider inserting a line talking of those who died during the Gukurahundi atrocities so that our children also know the dark history and to ensure that it (history) does not repeat itself?”

Dokora refused to be drawn into the Gukurahundi issue, saying that the matter was already before the courts and was, therefore, sub judice. Emakhandeni-Entumbane MP, Dingilizwe Tshuma (MDC-T) asked Dokora to explain if the national pledge was not a ploy to indoctrinate children.

Tshuma said it appeared the pledge was infringing on children’s religious beliefs, as there was recitation of respect to the dead heroes and heroines, an issue the Christian religion was against.

“I would also like to clarify that the Scripture Union was not banned and those were social media lies. We are not imposing any beliefs because I have already said that the words in the national pledge were derived from the Constitution,” Dokora responded. “MPs are the ones that came up with the Constitution. Every country in the world has its own national pledge and it is not only unique to Zimbabwe.”

Glen View North MP, Fani Munengami (MDC-T) said if the pledge was important for national vision, then ministers and MPs should also have been forced to recite it.

“My mandate is the Primary and Secondary Education ministry and that is why I am implementing it at schools. It is up to you as MPs to commit to it if you wish. There are 8 600 schools in which the directive applies and these include government, councils and trust schools because they abide by Zimbabwean laws.

“Every school must be registered and the process of registration is the one that commits them to the national education policy. Over one million parents were consulted over the national pledge and it was never imposed. We also carried out consultation programmes through different media like the radio, and the fact that the issue was highly debated and written about shows that there were consultations,” Dokora said.

He told legislators that in 2021, Grade Seven examinations will be transformed into junior school examinations. He was also quizzed why school buses were used to carry people to the recent million-man march, but Khanye ruled Dokora was not obliged to answer the question in the absence of concrete evidence.