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.
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.