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Botswana at 50: Pastors rebuke sinners

EFB leader Master Matlhaope

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.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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