As the country celebrates its golden jubilee, the Evangelist Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) which is an umbrella body of Pentecostal churches in Botswana has reflected on the country’s journey to 50 years of independence, noting achievements as well as shortfalls and concerns that the nation faces.
A Christian based organization, EFB has sensitized the nation on trends of emerging spiritual challenges, likely to undermine scriptural foundations of the gospel and to be a prophetic voice of the nation.
Never too shy to submit their voice on issues of national importance, EFB says in discharging their objectives they are guided by unshakeable values of being assertive and candor to “God mandated course.”
EFB takes a swipe at proponents of homosexuality, prostitution, abortion
Although some weighty voices have so far called for legalization of homosexuality, prostitution and abortion like that of former President Festus Mogae, renowned human rights lawyer Uyapo Ndadi, law maker representing Mahalapye East Botlogile Tshireletso, EFB this attacked them through a statement seen by Weekend Post- for their ‘unholy’ stance.
Outspoken EFB leader Master Matlhaope stated that “as we begin another journey of fifty years, we would like to once again, register our objection to certain calls for legalization of certain social aberrances.” He asserted that the call for the legalisation of homosexuality, prostitution and abortion in the name of human rights is deviant from “our nation's foundation and would lead us into a serious moral precipice”.
According to the blunt Pastor, these so called rights go against the very core and foundation that has held this nation intact in its respect for culture, sanctity of human life and its identity as a God fearing nation.
“We as EFB believe that the infallibility of Scripture in these matters is non-negotiable. There is no right to do wrong. Batswana know what is right and wrong and have defined that in their penal code. Any change to Batswana's self-defined moral sanctions should not be left to a few individuals to decide, but should be put before the nation through a referendum,” he cautioned.
Matlhaope reiterated that homosexuality as a practice is criminal and must remain so, and added that it is of extreme importance to note that Batswana have not condoned homosexual behaviours or tendencies as is indicated in recent Afrobarometer research. The study indicated that majority of Batswana abhor and shun it, as per “the bible and tswana customs”.
The umbrella body of ‘fire churches’ maintained that Botswana should not allow herself to be pressurized by current wave of transient trends which are perpetuated by international pressure groups. He added that these groups have organized to disadvantage and punish nations that are determined to preserve their own culture, identity and norms – and “this type of pressure is unethical and wrong and must not be tolerated”.
“Such practices despise the very foundations upon which this nation is built on,” he asserted. He highlighted that "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people" (Prov 14:34), and submission to Biblical norms holds hope to our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
“We submit that civil laws should be based on what is morally right. There should be no civil right to do a moral wrong,” Matlhaope stressed.
On abortion, the EFB leader asserted that it was the mother’s right to control her body under normal circumstances, but when she is carrying another human being within her body there is a conflict of two rights: the baby's right to live and the mother's right to control her body. “We contend as EFB that the right to live is supreme.”
Abortion, Matlhaope continued, does not solve the circumstances of conception but adds more evil to it and that no problem should be solved by killing innocent babies.
He also dispelled prostitution adding that it’s abominable and degrades a woman's worth. “God has vested a high worth and dignity upon all humans, and we must not enact laws that take away the dignity and worth of women through the commercialization and commoditisation of their bodies and their God given femininity,” the maverick Pastor insisted.
The contentious “man of God” appealed to Batswana in general to be steadfast and fearless in standing for what they believe is right for them and their nation.
Meanwhile former president Festus Mogae has publicly declared that homosexuality and sex work should be decriminalized in Botswana to assist curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS, as various studies identified them as catalysts to the scourge.
In addition, Human rights attorney Uyapo Ndadi has also avowed that there be decriminalisation of homosexuality and prostitution as they are fundamental rights of a human being and also personal choices that no one including government should temper with.
More organisations including Botswana Network of Ethics, law and HIV/AIDS and Lesbians, Gays and bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) have also been categorically vocal and gigantic proponents of legalization of homosexuality and prostitution.
Botswana comes from far, still maintains peace, political stability
The church organization has also encouraged that people of Botswana come together to give thanks to the Lord as we celebrate the country’s independence.
“EFB would like to take this opportunity to thank the Almighty God for bringing us into a golden jubilee as an independent nation. We would also like to take this time and wish all Batswana a blessed, prosperous, peaceful, and happy 50th year anniversary. We may not have achieved all our goals and realised all our dreams but, with God Botswana has a future,” Matlhaope declared.
“The country has moved from being one of the poorest nations, to a high middle income nation, achieved reduction of illiteracy, maintained peace and political stability, developed health facilities and road networks amongst many others.”
According to the EFB leader, the nation is nevertheless faced with challenges as is common in life. Although HIV & AIDS has been contained to a large extent, he said it still poses a threat to our nation's health and prosperity. He added that drugs, alcohol and substance abuse still remain a challenge as we see many lives with potential being destroyed by the same. “We implore every Motswana to take full responsibility by making healthy choices and abiding by principles which lead to a long healthy life and prosperity,” he advised.
Matlhaope noted with sadness the scourge of ritual murders that continue to take place in this country. “The belief that one can get rich or prosper through human sacrifice is not only inhuman, but barbaric and satanic”, he pointed out. “Perpetrators of such horrendous evil should not have any place in the current and future of this nation. We appeal to all Batswana to play the role of keepers and preservers of life and to help law enforcers curb this vice, and to ensure that we build a Botswana that is free from the crime of ritual murders.”
Pastor Matlhaope also observed that in the times when we have seen other African nations experiencing political turmoil, anarchy, genocide, economic retrogression, xenophobia, suicide bombings, civil wars along tribal lines and political affiliations, “we are grateful to God that such vices are not found within our borders.”
At 50, EFB pays tribute to Botswana founding fathers
Meanwhile, in acknowledging the country’s heroes, and while falling short of declaring Botswana a Christian nation because of its foundation, Matlhaope mentioned that, “our hearts go out to our founding fathers that laboured and laid a good Christian foundation for this beloved country; the likes of Kgosi Khama III who was married to a Christian woman called Mma Bessie and also best known as the founder of a Christian state, Kgosi Sechele I who was not only a ruler of his tribe but a missionary among his own and other African peoples.
He added that other dikgosi such as Kgosi Bathoen I, Kgosi Mathiba and many others whose history has not yet been written, played part in the “spiritual transformation that formed our foundation as a nation.”
This brief background according to him is the preponderance of the subsequent bloodless independence which we attained in 1966, adding that when other nations surrounding us shed blood for their independence, the faith of our forefathers in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus gave us peaceful independence.
“We celebrate those who played a midwifery role to the then newly formed Republic; the likes of Sir Seretse Khama, Sir Ketumile Masire, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe and others, the various leaders in the then opposition parties like Rre Phillip Matante and Motsamai Mpho and others, the various church denominations that existed during the time.”
According to the Pastor, “We know they prayed for the peace, and tranquillity of our nation, and God granted it, and as a result we enjoy the same today for which we are truly grateful.”
The debated EFB is an umbrella of ‘fire churches’ which are evangelical, Pentecostal and Para church organisations in the country. It boasts of a membership of denominations and organisations – which have member branches across the country, and currently EFB membership stands at 79 and the voice of EFB is collective of this membership.
As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.
According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.
According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.
“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.
BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.
Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.
Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.
BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.
The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.
Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.
In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made. “Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.
Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25
They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.
In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations. The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.
The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.
The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.
The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public “Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.
Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.
The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.
“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).
The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.
Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.
A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service. Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.
A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.
He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.
Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.
Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates. “The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.
This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.
That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”
Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.
“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.
The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.
According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu
For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”
The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.