Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Bond Notes : Are the fears genuine? - Part 1

By Lenin Tinashe Chisaira

Many voices and temperatures, have arisen over the proposed introduction of bond notes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). In a statement issued on 4 May 2016, RBZ Governor, John P. Mangudya, announced the forthcoming issue of $2, $5, $10 and $20 bond note denominations. Bond currency is not a novel idea, considering that Zimbabwe has been using bond coins since 2014. However, the notes have become the most prominent of a raft of measures proposed to deal with cash shortages. These shortages had metastasised societal   inequality. Disproportionately, the burden of cash shortages almost always falls on ordinary people, vendors, workers, civil servants, soldiers, policemen, small scale farmers, small scale miners and pensioners. These people brave the winter in bank queues awaiting uncertain cash withdrawals.

A bank queue in Harare: A result of cash shortages
Yet it seems that the few corrupt, politically connected individuals and corporates who have contributed to this severe cash shortage through externalisation are being shielded from responsibility for this mess. They seem to be shielded behind monetary policies that are camouflaged to appear as if there are pro-poor. Focus seem to have been shifted from bringing culprits to book as part of immediate diagnostic measures. Without justice, a situation where the poor will continue to be discriminated against in terms of access to the dollar and will be left to largely transact in much maligned bond notes which are at risk of transactional loss of value against multi-currencies, seems imminent.

A matter of basic economics

It is Government credibility however, not economics, that is at stake. The fear and mistrust run deep.
When economic rationale is used, bond notes appear to be a sanitiser in the current Zimbabwean economic situation.

As a background, the current debate on bond notes sprang up after the country secured a US$200 million loan facility from a development bank known as the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). The facility was meant to stabilise foreign currency exchange and to incentivise foreign exchange earnings. This money is not immune from externalisation.

Externalisation and a skewed balance of payments, or simply the unsustainable model of importing more that the country exports, are among the main reasons why Zimbabwe went into a punishing hard currency shortage. On imports, the country has already gone deep into the mode of importing basic goods that should ordinarily be produced locally such as maheu, bottled water, milk, potato crisps, cereals, fruit juice and even camphor creams and petroleum jellies.

It is interesting to note that resistance against the bond notes has been mainly instigated and initiated by elites in society, made up of supermarket owners, big business, professionals and churchmen people. These and other well-to-do sections of the society have hyped up the resistance against bond notes to an extent where the so-called ordinary person on the street has become bewildered, alarmed and more confused. This is despite the fact that the same ordinary person has been enduring winter nights in bank queues with fellow ordinary people.

 To the ordinary person in the bank queues, bond notes can be a life saver. On the other hand, to big business, professionals or rich clergyman intending to externalise hard currency, it is a raw deal.

Bond notes and resuscitating local industry

It is apparent to anyone with a knowledge of basic economics that as long as the country imports more than it exports, there is trade deficit. The country experiences a skewed balance of payments. In such a situation, there is great need to work towards the resuscitation of local industry rather than importing more. An exclusively Zimbabwean medium of exchange, is an incentive towards such resuscitation and uplifts the livelihoods of vendors and small scale producers in mining, farming and industry.

The bulk of our sources of hard currency (which I won’t refer to as liquidity) is derived from exports and for this to occur, we need to incentivise the main producing areas, and these are not banks or supermarkets or churches, but small scale farmers, tobacco farmers and small scale miners and their support service providers in the form of vendors and siyasos in addition to large scale miners of gold, diamond and ferrochrome. Therefore, the bond notes are going to be welcome development to vendors, tobacco farmers as well as small scale gold miners, who desire immediate cash after selling their product, which produce in the long run can enable Zimbabwe to get back into meeting its balance of payments.

Admittedly, to get hard currency we also need foreign direct investment just as we need money from our people in the diaspora as well as lines of credit. But these two areas contribute just a mere 20% to our sources of hard currency.

It is apparent that the economic case for bond notes should be balanced against the re-assurances of trust in the government. For the confidence to be achieved, the government must exit its willingness to sanction the externalisation of currency and to bar corruption. These ills have an adverse effect on the resuscitation of local production.

-To be continued

 [Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is a lawyer and former student leader at UZ. He is a student of Economic Regulation and writes here and at  in his personal capacity. Twitter: @LeninChisaira]

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A year of Lumumba's sex-tape, UZ HIV students and state-led objectification of young women

By Daphne Jena and Lenin Tinashe Chisaira

The Day of the African Child is commemorated each year on 16 June. The day is held to remember schoolchildren who were massacred whilst protesting apartheid-education policies in the Soweto township of apartheid South Africa in 1976, exactly forty year ago.
Co-author Daphne Jena (right) speaking at an event

And exactly 40 years later, the year 2016 has been an eventful year in the victimisation of the young in neighbouring Zimbabwe, especially young women.
In May 2016, state papers in Zimbabwe screamed headlines claiming that almost half of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) students were HIV positive. Within a month the same state media was to expose former Zanu-Pf activist and parliamentary candidate Acie Lumumba’s sex tape featuring an unidentified young woman.
The two incidences are dangerously linked. For starters, both were exposed by the state media. Secondly there were openly aimed at victimising vocal sections of the Zimbabwean society. The report stating that “almost half of students who underwent HIV testing at the University of Zimbabwe were positive” was immediately buttressed by calls for the limitation of free association in campus’ halls of residences.
The second incident, which was poorly disguised as a scoop, was aimed at punishing former Zanu Pf Harare Provincial Executive member and shadow MP for Hatfield constituency, Acie Lumumba who had just resigned from the ruling party citing rampant corruption and lack of good governance in party and government. He claimed his sex tapes got into state hands after police searched his house in June 2016. The sex tape immediately came to a government-owned tabloid, H-Metro and the same day, the video began to circulate on the internet. So much for state spying on people’s bedrooms.
In as much as the 47% HIV article article published by Herald and the Chronicle on a research purported to have been done by the National Aids Council seems to tarnish the image of the institution, it also compromises the reputation of the students especially female students. The Lumumba sex-tape on the other hand, highlights the patriarchal notions of treating young women as objects that can be used to settle political scores without even the courtesy of consent or offering dignity to young women.
The state paper could have done by covering the face of the young woman rather than splashing her image and body on the public eye. Basic human dignity and respect for citizen privacy should have entered the conscience of the alleged police searchers, political bullies as well as editors of the tabloid.
Blaming female students and young women
Each time there is a discussion on the sexual behaviour of people, be it in society as whole or about students in tertiary institutions, most of the blame seems to fall on female students and young women. Female students and young women are often judged based on the rumours on their morality and sexual behaviour in institutions and in general society.

This is mainly perpetuated by the assumption that most female students and young women engage in sex work with rich married men in exchange for money and other material favours. Such rumours have been with us for so long such that, they have been slowly accepted as truth for almost every female student and young woman in the country. This excuses men in general and male students in particular from playing a part in any of the sexual activities in society and in tertiary institutions.
The article which stated that 47% of students at UZ who underwent testing are believed to have been positive, is likely to have a negative impact on the female than male students. When the UZ Vice Chancellor Levy Nyagura gave a comment, he pointed to the fact that an increase in the number of pregnant students was a cause for concern as if that is a direct relation between being pregnant and being HIV positive. Furthermore, his comments make falling in pregnancy as a crime. Already in his comment, Professor Nyagura ignores the fact that for a woman to conceive, there is a man involved.
Such statements perpetuate the attitude which is already deep rooted in our society that a woman is to blame for every relationship between two people. It is rare for men an d male students to be judged based on where they learn or what they do, it is always the women and female students who are at fault. Unfortunately, this does not end with street talk but it even translates to the abuse that female students, young women or employees experience in workplaces.
We have heard of cases of female students and young women who are sexually harassed when they go for work related learning, and some even fail to secure places as a result. The assumption among some men that female students and young are easy or are of loose morals are based on the rumours and beliefs that always implicate female students.
If someone has heard that students from a certain institution are ‘easy’, that person may decide to try their luck on any student from that institution expecting to get a positive response. A negative one, will lead to disappointment and hence opens way to for abuse. To compensate for the rejection, one may then decide to offer the opportunity that the student is seeking in exchange for sexual favours, worst cases end up in sexual harassment or rape.
No more patriarchy
To sum it all, it has become a sad development that state organs themselves are taking centre stage in the perpetuation of such stigmatisation. The UZ reports and the Lumumba sex tape expose state-sanctioned patriarchy at its worst. It is the duty of ever responsible citizen to defend violations of individual liberty and to protect victims of a bulling patriarchal society.
To that end, though the UZ retracted its statements as a face saving measure and a young women exonerated herself from the sex tape, the media and law-enforcement organs in Zimbabwe must look at their consciences and ensure that they do not become such sadistic pawns and perverts in the broader political game.
A continuation of such victimisation and patriarchal bigotry against female students and young women will only serve to destroy the hopes, healthy sexualities and freedoms of an already-suffering demographic, populace and nation.
[Daphne Jena is a women’s rights activist. Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is a former SRC Vice-President at the University of Zimbabwe. They write in their activist capacities. Twitter: @DaphneJENA and @LeninChisaira .First published on 17 June 2016 on NehandaRadio]

#ThisFlag: A good idea, but the Zimbabwean struggle will not be tweeted.

The social media craze in Zimbabwe going under the hashtag #ThisFlag has been around for a little over a month now. The campaign is also heavily subscribed by Zimbabweans in the diaspora and by other sympathisers beyond borders. As of the third week of May 2016, newspaper editorials and opinions have begun to be written about the social media campaign. Indeed, critical questions around the issues of corruption, abuse of power, economic mismanagement and general lack of good governance are being raised under the #ThisFlag campaign by Zimbabweans and other netizens. 

Ambassadors and government officials are also part of the showcase. What is missing and scary about it, is that it has shifted struggles from the streets to the internet. Many brave people whose track record in fighting democratic struggles in Zimbabwe is undoubted, have also regrettably fallen for the exclusive social media campaign and hashtagging.

The campaign, sadly remains an exclusively social media one, without any meaningful offline presence. This raises questions about its real objectives, ideology and program of action.
Respectfully it is a good idea, and an attractive one for social media, photo galleries and for those wishing to exhibit Photoshop expertise. But for any meaningful struggle against the Zanu-Pf government or any government or oppressive system in the world, the social media only works whilst mobilising for real-life protest, campaigns and mobilisation efforts. This is what the Zimbabweans rallying behind the campaign have failed to grasp. Characteristically, social media without offline presence is a demobilising factor.

2016 is a year of resistance dumped on the internet

The Zimbabwean flag

Any person who follows protests and believes in them, would have regained hope in 2016  being a  year of resistance. There were powerful occupations and strikes at two giant parastatals by disgruntled workers just a few months back. In…. workers stuck camp and occupied the Grain Marketing Board’s (GMB) head-offices in Eastlea. Within a few months, rail workers and their families embarked on another powerful industrial action and occupation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe’s (NRZ) Rugare marshalling yard. The country’s biggest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), after a long period of sleeping on duty, eventually managed to mobilise and carry out a powerful and massive demonstration in the streets of Harare. The latter action prompted the ruling party’s youth league to organise its own ‘One Million Man March’ in support of the 92-year old president of the Republic, Robert Mugabe.

Hence 2016 was promising to be a year of the streets. Painfully, within a few weeks, all the anger that should have been poured on the streets was relegated to social media. People began to find comfort in tweeting the #ThisFlag hashtag with whatever issues they have and ending at that. Even the so-called leaders of the #ThisFlag campaign, whom this writer, shares certain WhatsApp groups with, openly declared that the movement was not going to pour into the streets .In other words, #ThisFlag was going to continue raising issues and expressing grievances with the way government was running the country, but only by (ab)using individualistic methods of posing for photos with wrapped flags, and posting the photos on social media. In a few weeks’ time, street activists and faceless social media accounts began a backward trend of clicktivism over activism.

Social media should supplement, not substitute direct action

Social media had been utilised and achieved great results for physically protesting people (emphasis on ‘physically protesting’) during  the Arab Spring  uprising in Egypt and Tunisia, the Occupy movements in the United States, the #FeesMustFall campaign in South Africa (which this writer was physically part of and of which he wrote an article on Nehanda Radio ), and recently during the campaign of a socialist candidate Bernie Sanders in the United States. In all these occasions, social media was used to supplement direct action and to mobilise for living campaigns. Never was a government or system removed by clicktivists using the social media aloneas their sole arena for resistance as is the case with Zimbabwe’s #ThisFlag social media campaign.

Similar Flag but we are different Zimbabweans

Whilst the intentions of the organisers of #ThisFlag may indeed be noble and innocent, real politics and ideological understanding would show that trying to bunch together fellow Zimbabweans for just being under the same flag, without regard to social classes, is a gross and dangerous misrepresentation of patriotism. As a poor African, I have more in common with a poor African in another country than I can ever have with a ‘fellow’ Zimbabwean  government minister , capitalist or rich pastor or preacher. Hence to bundle all and sundry on the grounds that we accidentally share the same nationalist flag takes us nowhere. A genuine movement can only be class-based and even transcend borders and not be brought together by a nationalist flag. The world is now a global village and many of our citizens are more concerned with people to people solidarity across borders and not fake comradeship under a flag. A company director, rich church pastor or a cabinet minister may share the same nationalist, albert same flag with a vendor, a sex worker or a street lawyer like myself, but we can never share the same interests. That is a great error on the part of activists rallying under the #ThisFlag campaign. What we want in life and in politics are different. Just last year, most of us wept when the Supreme Court delivered an anti-labour judgement, yet other Zimbabwean businesspeople ululated. It is inconceivable that today we can stand side by side with such ‘fellow’ Zimbabweans, our interests can never be the same just because we share the same flag. As the working class, the poor and radical intellectuals, we will be our own liberators and we will liberate ourselves on the streets not via Wi-Fi.

The Way Forward includes Offline Activism

As a way forward, activists should either get off their backs and smartphones, scrutinise their allies, craft a programme of action backed by progressive ideologies and solidarity with genuine movements within and beyond nationalistic borders, mobilise and get into the streets and face down police baton sticks, teargas and beatings if they want governments to notice. Otherwise  this elitist social media noise only serves to entrenchexploitation, alienate activists from the mass of society and demobilise and undermine people who believe in genuine direct action such as NRZ, GMB and opposition grassroots activists. Unfortunately, Zanu-Pf has already seen the power of offline presence over social media with the adoption of the counter #OurFlag hashtag by the party’s One Million Man March organisers. Photoshop, modelling for the camera with brand-new flags and tweeting in the comfort of private bedrooms and offices is a dangerous illusion that must be broken as soon as yesterday.

Having said that, it is indeed na├»ve to dismiss the strategic role of social media, but it is only strategic as long as it is used to mobilise and publicise real life actions. I am an avid user of social media myself and an advocate for the use of alternative media as opposed to mainstream media, which is usually controlled by financial or political interests, but never once do I fool myself that when I am on social media alone I am fighting a struggle. Social media is important and democratic, but only when it is used as a support strategy by an action-oriented people. 

In that regard, I sign off with a quote from UK socialist Chris Bruno. He wrote in a 2012 issue of the Socialist Worker newsletter: As a supplement to, not a substitute for, old tactics, social media plays an important role. It has the ability to reach those who have neither the time nor desire to participate in the existing political infrastructure thus far. It provides another effective way to organize and mobilize for our actions, and it provides a truly alternative media — one that is organically created by the masses and gives us a more complete picture of what’s going on beyond our doorsteps.(emphasis mine). It is important that we acknowledge social media for what it is - a mobilising tool for real life action - and utilise it as such, but to substitute street action as is the current case, is a historical disaster.

[Lenin Tinashe Chisaira coordinates! and tweets at @LeninChisaira. This article first published 3 June 2016 on AfricafightNow,org!]

#BringBackOurGirls from Kuwait Movement: Police Brutality, Activists and Solidarity with Stranded Women.

By Lenin Tinashe Chisaira 

Zimbabwean Police’s bullish treatment of activists who would be exercising their various democratic rights to protest and express solidarity with exploited or oppressed members of the society seems to continue unabated, especially when indignity was meted on 06 April 2016 against an activist ‘#BringBackOurGirls from Kuwait’ demonstration outside the Middle Eastern state’s embassy in Harare. The demonstration was organised by activists and powerful emerging movement organisations, namely the Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance (ZIPWA) and the Zimbabwe Activists Alliance (ZAA).
The protesters meet riot police
The democratic action by the activists was targeted at showing solidarity with - as well as expressing contempt over the treatment of - over 200 Zimbabwean young women who were reportedly sold for US$25000 each and who upon rescue remain stranded in the State of Kuwait at the time of writing. The plight of the women had gripped Zimbabwean media in recent weeks. Most of these women who are now held up in the country awaiting passage back home were allegedly lured to Kuwait with promises of jobs, especially offers to work as maids at salaries of US$600 a month, which is a dreamy middle class income in an economically-mismanaged Zimbabwe. Instead they endured sexual abuse, inhuman working conditions and then delays in repatriation. 

 Women are more vulnerable in a failed state

Rampant economic hardships fuelled by over three-decades of governance mishaps in the Southern African country has ensured that its ordinary and working class people become symbols of pity and suffering across the world. As is the norm in the Global South , it is the women and youth who suffer the most from the vagaries of poverty caused by the economic downturn. Hence it is not surprising that the news reports have mostly reported on the plight of young women duped by dubious employment agencies that usually have semblance of organised crime units and that exist to trade in people from Sub-Saharan Africa and other impoverished parts of the world.
When this writer caught up with the Coordinator of the Zimbabwe Activists’ Alliance, Muzvare Lynette Mudehwe after the embassy demonstration she indicated that her involvement in the #BringBackOurGirls from Kuwait issue was as a result of her being not just a human rights defender, but also a woman, a mother and an African. She said, ‘Zimbabwe has become a failed state that can’t provide jobs for its citizens. Hence those citizens have become greatly vulnerable.’
Linda Masarira, the Coordinator of the Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance was also incensed at the way the whole stranded women issue was being held at government level, which is the reason why her organisation was part of the demonstration. She said, ‘We feel let down and surprised at the slow pace at which the government of Zimbabwe is dealing with the trapped women in Kuwait after a period stretching about a month now, this is a case of misplaced priorities by the government. It is every government’s responsibility to ensure that their citizens are safe regardless of their geographical position worldwide. We also condemn the continual processing of travelling documents to unsuspecting women by the Ministry of Home Affairs and also to that effect, we don’t see any reason why these bogus employment agencies can still be left operating, they must be immediately banned’
In a state that is on record as being perpetually among top ten most impoverished nations in the world, as well as having other unflattering records of human rights abuses, corruption, institutional failures and a dubious political environment, it is easy for foreign embassy staff and conniving local hawks to take advantage of vulnerable women and girls and ship them overseas where they are treated like wild animals, kicked at, over-worked and virtually kept as house slaves. These human rights violations and indignities have no place in the 21st century.
 Protest Action and Police responses
When the police silences voices raised against such brazen human rights violations like they did with organisations like ZIPWA, ZAA and others on Wednesday, they just reinforce the notion that the role of a police force in bourgeois society is one do not involve protection of social justice. And the indignity that activists are made to suffer is clearly indefensible and unjustifiable in a democratic society.
‘I am still shocked at the way the police treated the peaceful protestors,’ Muzvare Mudehwe informed this writer during a post-mortem discussion. ‘We were shoved into a riot truck and detained for over an hour before being released without being charged. The police were even dismissive of female legislators who chose to be part of the #BringBackOurGirls from Kuwaiti demonstration. These included Honourable Tabitha Khumalo, Rorana Muchihwa, Ronia Bunjira and Memory Mbondia. Sadly, all these are from the opposition. Zanu-Pf MPs did not want to get involved in the campaign, citing that the government has relations with Kuwait, but that at the expense of innocent stranded women, some of whom are voters in  those same ruling party MPs’ constituencies’
Another activist and journalist, Watmore Makokoba who was part of the demonstration rightfully indicated that zimbabwe, has always had a questionable record against the treatment of women, be it in social or political circles and hence the police action against the demonstrators was not a new thing. He said, ‘Women rights continue to be hindered by disregard shown on women’s plights from the days of child marriages to the current clampdowns on solidarity demonstrations with stranded women.’
Way Forward

 The courageous raising of concerns by activists and other sections of the Zimbabwean society about the plight of the poor women stranded in Kuwait is commendable. Such actions, even if they can hardly be expanded due to the existence of an almost fascist police force in Zimbabwe, can nevertheless provide the right foundations for future mobilisations of the society against a political and economic governance system a society that perpetuates patriarchy and treats Global South women and working class youth as expendable pawns and goods in the evil, racist and profiteering human trafficking business people from the third world.
In that regard, feminists, leftists, Africans and activists from the entire world who are burdened by this unfair capitalist system should be concerned, not merely because they are anti-capitalist or anything, but because these women and other victims of human trafficking and organised crime around the world are human too, who deserve respect, dignity and protection against a sick world.

[Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is, among other things, a former student leader in Zimbabwe and the Editor of and tweets at: @LeninChisaira. He can be contacted at This article first published on 16 April 2016 on NehandaRadio ]

Zimbabwe's ban on religious activities in public schools: a brave and progressive move.

Zimbabwe's Minister of Education, Hon. Lazarus Dokora

By Lenin Tinashe Chisaira 

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Lazarus Dokora in April 2016 issued a directive halting Scripture Unions from government schools in the country as was reported in state media. This was followed by moves towards discouraging churches from renting and worshiping in government school buildings. The decisions prompted rumours that religious stuff such as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ were going to be banned next. In a nation that is highly religious yet poverty-stricken like Zimbabwe, the directive by the Minister Dokora was a very brave yet commendable move.

Why Religion must be separated from Education in poor countries

In progressive nations, religion is not part of the national education system and Zimbabwe should not be an exception. Whilst families do indeed take responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their children, this should not be done with the connivance of public institutions or taxpayer-funded public spaces like schools.

It is high time religion and education is separated and churches should only carry out whatever activity they claim to do in their own private spaces. Religions, especially Christianity’s hold on Zimbabwean society needs to be interrogated. It is only fair considering that Zimbabwe is not a Christian nation, yet the Christian faith has taken root in public life, not because of any mysterious powers but due obviously to the nation’s historical past of Bible-backed colonialism and capitalism imposed economic poverty. The latter (poverty) forces people to turn for salvation in supernatural beings and the hopes of a better after-life instead of fighting for a better world whilst still on Earth.

History has proven that religion has taken root in the underdeveloped countries in a way that is almost directly proportional to the way atheism and agnostics are rampant in more developed and prosperous nations. A clear example is the Scandinavian countries where most of Zimbabwean aid comes from. In Sweden, about 7-0-80% of the population is not religious, and yet the GDP stands at over US$58,898.90 according to World Bank statistics. In comparison, Zimbabwe and Malawi are among the poorest nations in the world, with mere GDPs of sickening US$931.20 and US $255.00 respective, yet we have seen an unprecedented rise of sensational Pentecostal churches in the same countries, giving no benefit to the populace except making them part with their hard earned money as ‘talents’, ‘seeding’ and ‘tithes’ to cushion the lazy lives of dubious, semi-illiterate and pro-establishment ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’.

Likewise, the use of public premises for private religious activities must be highly discouraged. Public buildings must merely be used for the purposes they were set up for, lest the nations and tax-payers end up being disadvantaged by wear and tear on public property as well as the interruption of students’ weekend study by hymns and the uttering of ‘tongues’.

Children must not be abused

The consciousness of children is a delicate manner. As children grow up, society accepts that they cannot be forced into such things as child labour and political activity as well as the undertaking of certain intoxicating drugs and alcohols. This protective stance on children takes cognisance of their early stages of mental growth and development. However, the same consideration is not extended to ‘spiritual ‘matters, leaving religion and the church with the free reign to manipulate the developing child’s brain. That is hypocrisy. In as much as society cannot accept a six or fourteen-year-old girl or boy being part of political parties like Zanu-Pf, MDCT, ZimPf, PDP, EFF-Zim or NCA, because that child has not reached a reasonable level of psychological development where the child can make critical political decisions, such a society, must also know that the same girl or boy needs time to grow before independently choosing to be faith-based, non-religious, agnostic or atheist. Public schools must be non-religious and non-political, unbiased towards any form of spiritualism or nationalism or any other ‘...isms’.

But he’s wrong on the national pledge

Whilst the above moves are progressive, it is unfortunate that the Minister and government have decided to enforce a ‘National Pledge’. Both the immorality and senseless of the pledge have been well articulated by some religious groups and trade unions like the Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ). It is obviously  ridiculous after banning religious clubs to then force children to recite a religious-tinted national pledge.

Rather the government should have allowed a time for children and other targeted pledge-takers to be educated about the themes behind the pledge, especially on the relevance of such a pledge after nearly four decades of independence. Finally, the pledge would have been better to be areligious, or at least to uphold the virtues of a multi-religious-cum-areligious society.

In conclusion, it is part of government mandate to ensure that children’s’ mental and physical needs are catered for through academic support, teaching and sporting activities. However spiritual activities, just like political decisions must not be imposed on a young person, until he reaches an age where he is expected to make informed decisions about those things by herself or himself. It’s unfair to think a person who can’t be allowed to vote or marry can be expected to make religious decisions. Furthermore, in these times of dictatorship, it is hard to think that blind patriotism can be a virtue. In  short, religious activities, churches and Scripture Unions at government schools and prayers during non-religious public functions must fall, likewise the so-called #NationalPledgeMustFall.

[1] [Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is a lawyer, socialist and activist. He coordinates and tweets at @LeninChisaira. This article was first published 20 May 2016 on NehandaRadio]