The Sunday Mail
Shingai Rukwata Ndoro Chiseling the Debris —
TODAY the column is focused on the serious implications of the parliamentary treatment of the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora, regarding religious studies in our public schools.
I would like that you see that this is no different from the 15th century Spanish Inquisition.
Every Wednesday there is a question and answer session in the House of Assembly. The questions are directed at the members of the executive (ministers) by MPs.
On February 8, 2017, the MP for Binga North, Dubeko Prince Sibanda (MDC-T), directed this question to Dr Dokora: “Minister, is the expansion of the new curriculum introducing Islamic studies? I think that is what the nation is waiting to hear from the minister. Let him answer that question because there is clear apprehension from the people outside.”
The minister informed the house that both the new and old curricula had a multi-faith approach in respect of all major religions; that is Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and African Traditional Religion.
The minister went on to say, “You will find that we have maintained the themes as carried in the old curriculum to the new curriculum and we can make it available for publication. We are not introducing Islamic studies. They were already there.”
The MP had a follow-up question: “Honourable Minister, you are talking of varying the curriculum; is the varying of the curriculum including introduction of Islamic studies and are you Muslim yourself?”
Dr Dokora responded thus, “I hold this rosary here, so whether I say one thing or another, you are fixated with what you have been reading and that may not necessarily be a fair invitation to a contestation here.
“If you were to look at the 1980 to 1987 curriculum, you will find that we have had a wide religious system in this country, we have had Judaism, Islam and all other religions in Zimbabwe. So we are not introducing anything, but just enlarging the sphere and scope of our education system.
“So, exactly where this question is coming from? Certainly not from the new curriculum; we are not introducing Islam, it has always been there just as Judaism.”
In July 2016, Dr Dokora had to make a similar public declaration about his personal and private religious affinity and affiliation following a campaign through social media by some Christians who were insisting that the minister was a Muslim.
Zimbabwe is a secular republic (Section 1 of the Constitution of 2013) and a constitutional democracy (Section 3(a)).
The State is based on: (1) common humanity, ie the recognition of the inherent human dignity and worth of all human beings (Sections 3f, 48 and 51); (2) inalienable human rights and freedoms (Section 3c and 49); and (3) the recognition of the equality of all human beings (sections 3f and 56).
Section 60 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of thought and conscience and the profession of views or lack of them.
Every person has the right to choose freely his/her position toward religion, has the right to profess a desired religious view or not to profess any religious view, to engage in religious ceremonies individually or collectively with other citizens.
The humanity of those with religious persuasions and without is constitutionally recognised and protected.
The right of freedom of thought and conscience is subject only to such restrictions which are necessary to ensure: (1) public law and order; (2) public health; and (3) the defence of the reciprocal rights and freedoms of other citizens.
This means that all citizens are on the level in respect of rights and responsibilities arising out of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of conscience.
Have you noticed that ignorance and lack of economic development of the African is associated with lack of Christian civilisation? Have you checked the private school adverts that are based on this colonial lie peddled by good natives?
In his column of February 11, 2017, The Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru made some interesting remarks.
“Stripped of all pretenses, the simple argument of which (is) being put forward (is) that the … Zimbabwean – a local variant of the archetypal colonial noble savage … (needs) to be saved and served by” the colonial privileges and advantages of Christianity and Christians.
To conservative Christians, learners in Zimbabwe should never learn or hear about indigenous spirituality of Africans and the attendant customs and traditions.
There is confession to be Christian even if there is no practicing. This allows Zimbabwe to be considered a Christian nation or predominantly of Christians.
This further justifies (1) compulsory public school assembly Christian prayers, (2) use of the Bible for public swearings, (3) predominance of Christianity in public affairs, and in Religious and Moral Studies, (4) recognition of only Christian events and observances as national public holidays and (5) chaplaincy in the security services (army, police and prison services).
From this hateful thinking, Dr Dokora has “been framed as a failure, congenital national failure”.
The Speaker of the House of Assembly did not protect Dr Dokora from an inquisitorial and abusive question. None of the members of the House present stood up against the abuse of a Government minister by a legislator in a secular republic for the interests of a specific religion.
When the assembly of the representatives of the people of Zimbabwe can become so inquisitorial, can we have confidence in our institutions?
What has personal and private religious affinity, affiliation and practices to do with being a minister in the Republic of Zimbabwe?
Feedback: [email protected] or twitter @shingaiRndoro. A gallery of previous articles is found at www.sundaymail.co.zw/author/shingairukwata