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Outspoken church bodies join forces

Outspoken umbrella body of Para and Pentecostal churches which are popularly known as “fire churches” in Botswana, Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) has resolved to merge with other umbrella church bodies in the country, Weekend Post can reveal.

The contentious church movement will amalgamate with conservative Botswana Council of Churches (BCC) and little known Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) under the banner of a new network organisation called Botswana Network of Christian Communities (BONECCO).

Already, the Secretariat of the three Umbrella bodies has completed the task of working on the BONECCO constitution – which was drafted way back in 2011. There was also a high level powered meeting comprising of representatives from the 3 umbrella bodies which was consigned with the adoption of the said BONECCO constitution that will also provide policy direction.

According to a letter passed to Weekend Post dated 7 April 2017, from the Secretariat of the 3 bodies to its leadership, the move to unite the Christian umbrella bodies follows “7 long years” in which they have been working tirelessly towards formalising the “historic” cooperation. The said letter was signed by General Secretaries; Reverend Mosweu Simane (BCC), Pastor Gaolekwe Ndwapi (EFB) and Reverend Christopher Modikwa (OAIC).

Speaking on the merger, the convener of the 3 bodies Pastor Master Matlhaope of EFB, told Weekend Post that the new church network will not replace the individual organisations that have been existing (BCC, EFB,OAIC) but will be a platform where “commonalities are tackled together”. He stated: “But we will leave room for existing umbrella churches to continue as they have been so that their interests or inclinations and ideologue continue to exist unhindered. This one is just a platform to collaborate.”

He explained that way back before independence in 1966; churches played a pivotal role in the country as they held some sectors like health and education although government later came on board. Although even up to date, they still collaborate here and there, they believe churches can still do more, and that working together will be more ideal.

It is understood that in 2010 the leadership of the bodies came together to deliberate on their networking initiatives and this ushered in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2011 – which legitimised full participation, commitment and position in the process that would later lead to the formulation of the new umbrella network.

Matlhaope, who is also the EFB President stated that as the umbrella church movement they will be more collaborative adding that “we are initiating a transformation network, in it as the church we feel we can do more than we are currently doing.” In the past, EFB has never shied away from registering their position on key topical issues affecting the country.

They have continuously expressed its concern at the relentless campaign by Botswana Networks on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) and other similar organisations whose aim is the legalisation of prostitution and homosexuality in Botswana which they repeatedly called “unholy.” They pointed out that homosexuality, fornication, adultery and incest are inappropriate expressions of sexuality since they are not just unbiblical but they are also not in consonance with Botswana national culture and traditions.

In that regard, the umbrella of fire churches has also taken a swipe at proponents of homosexuality, prostitution, abortion regardless of weighty voices who called for legalization of homosexuality, prostitution and abortion like that of former President Festus Mogae, renowned human rights lawyer Uyapo Ndadi and law maker representing Mahalapye East Botlogile Tshireletso.

Another church umbrella body to be part of the network is BCC. The conventional church movement was put on the spot light last year after sending one of its leadership cadres Reverend Thabo Mampane to represent them at a local private radio show where he “colluded” with contentious and provocative Pastor Steve Anderson over “homosexuality.”

According to random listeners at the time, Mampane could not articulate his position with regard to homosexuality very well which led to the US Pastor humiliating him as he instead got angry and emotional during the interview. This made the BCC leader susceptible to heavy criticism afterwards.

Despite his (Mampane) remarks, the BCC General Secretary Reverend Mosweu Simane released a statement highlighting that BCC, as a network of Churches with different doctrinal positions, continues to engage its members towards formulating a common position on the issues of human sexuality with particular reference to homosexuality, which will represent the divergent views and positions held by members.

“The Council therefore does not have a position on the issue of homosexuality,” he said of BCC which is known for sitting on the fence with regard to many topical matters affecting the nation – the inclination which differs with that of EFB. Relatively less known OAIC represents homegrown African churches founded originally during the colonial period, that have developed indigenous forms of worship, theology and social organization, all deeply inspired by a vision that is both Christian and African. It is unclear as to what position they have taken before on various matters of national interest. The collaboration of the 3 church bodies under umbrella BONECCO will reveal how easy it is to work together as church umbrellas harboring different ideologue. 

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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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