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.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.