The Evangelist Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) has launched a scornful attack on the leadership of the country saying those calling for legalization of homosexuality, prostitution and abortion should start to rethink their stand.
The EFB leader Master Matlhaope told the WeekendPost this week that EFB continues to caution the nation “particularly those in leadership to uphold the righteous standards set by our forefathers”.
He said “the standards they set includes but are not limited to criminalizing homosexuality, prostitution and abortion. Those calling for the legalization of these should be warned and advised to think otherwise,” he warned.
Former president Festus Mogae has on several occasions made known his views that homosexuality and sex work be decriminalized in Botswana to assist curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS, as various studies identified them as catalysts to the scourge. Recently, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso told parliament of her support for abortion and called for its legalization.
Human Rights lawyers such as Uyapo Ndadi has also advocated for the decriminilisation of homosexuality and prostitution, saying they were fundamental rights of any human being and also personal choices that no one including government should temper with.
Homosexuality According to the EFB, homosexuality is foreign to our nation and above all regarded as an abomination in the Bible. The umbrella of ‘fire churches’ stated that they are encouraged by the government’s appeal of the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) registration case. “Homosexuality, criminalized in our penal code must remain as such and the practice should boldly be discouraged,” EFB contends.
Prostitution The EFB leader also posits that prostitution which is often color coded-sex work- dehumanizes people. He says it takes away dignity and replaces it with shame, and that is why even those calling for its legalization cannot dare their daughters practice it let alone do it themselves. “It sentences a woman to the life of shame in the present, and secures her for eternal hell fire after final judgment,” he added.
Matlhaope highlighted that they believe in the inherent value of a woman, “she is a living being not a commodity, a nation builder, a life carrier and life’s shelter, a protector, a nurturer, a home maker, a wife, a mother and a sister, above all she has the imago dei (the image of God). Her price is the blood of the Son of God.”
The outspoken pastor declared that: “we call those calling for legalization for prostitution to desist and to respect the value and dignity of women.”
Abortion According to the pastor, human life takes precedence to personal privacy. We do not have the right to privately kill another human being, he says. “We call for the protection of human life, born and unborn.”
He however added, “In a pregnancy situation, we have two lives-the life of the woman and the life of the unborn child and both are human with potentialities. Under normal circumstances, a woman would have right to do as she wants with her body of course within the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and when she carries another life, we have two lives both of which have right to live. None of these two lives have the right to take the life of the other. Only when one is under threat can there be tampering to save the other.”
Satanism The EFB leader also raised concerns about the escalation of Satanism activity and behaviour in public schools and the use of drugs and substance abuse amongst the youth, juvenile deliquincies as well as breaking down of families and increasing HIV infections. He made relevance to the Thamaga incidence which resulted in an innocent elderly woman being murdered by a gang.
“We have evidenced an increase in corrupted sexual morals, infiltration of anti-societal norms, road carnages and all these behaviors, call for intensified prayer and evangelism efforts, which is why we call all EFB churches and those subscribing to the evangelical doctrine of regeneration to intensify evangelism effort,” he said.
Democratic intolerance The EFB also points out that they are disheartened by voices of intolerance in the national space. He pointed out, “In a democracy such as ours, they say everyone has the right to express his or her views. They add that it is also enshrined in our culture and norm as Batswana expressed in Tswana idioms such as; “mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe, mmualebeo abo a bua la gagwe gore monalentle a le tswe”.
Motlhaope said that there were topical issues that are debated varying from economy, arts, and traditional renaissances and said that EFB encouraged healthy debates as they are important for the development of the country. “We have however noted that at times when EFB within its space as a faith based institution speak on issues of morality, we are faulted as being intolerant. We wish to state that intolerance to EFB’s opinion is also intolerance and should equally be condemned,” he added.
Corruption On the issue of corruption, he said that the EFB encourages all in leadership as well as all citizens and residents to do all it takes to ensure Zero tolerance for corruption. “We pledge our prayer and support to His Excellency the President of Botswana and encourage him to continually take all action required against corruption to set the right tone from the top,” the EFB leader stated.
Vision 2016 Matlhaope reminded citizens that with only a year left before reaching 2016, and the 50th independence anniversary, all should exert more effort in the realisation of the Vision. “We are now less than a year towards the end of 2016, our 50th Independence anniversary where we have set a clear vision of what as nation we wish to be. We therefore urge every Motswana to redouble his or her effort for the realization of the vision. We also pray that God continues to assist us to realize this noble goal.”
WeekendPost understands that during the 2014 elections, the candid EFB in unison with the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC) and the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) set up an Observer Mission and fully participated in observing the General Elections.
As such, the leader cautioned elected leaders that: “we believe those elected are both within the perfect will and the permissive will of God. We urge all the legislators to ensure that the will of God is sacrosanct in their mandate and ensure that morality guides legislation. We pledge our prayers for our legislators. Whilst the legislators are totally free to express their views and vote according to their good consciences, we hold them accountable to remember what they promised the electorate, what the electorate holds in high regard and what the electorate abhors.”
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. Currently EFB membership stands at 79 and the voice of EFB is collective of this membership.
The Fellowship holds that leaders who support same sex relationships, abortion and sex work will have a ruth awakening from the church movement, however, the assertion clashes with some of the leaders who have publicly declared their support for the individual choices with regard to abortion, prostitution and homosexuality.
Law society of Botswana (LSB) Chairman Lawrence Lecha also told this publication in a brief interview that churches are taking it too far and now trampling on the rights of others. “That is a very unfortunate statement by the EFB. Our constitution is clear that there shall be no discrimination of any kind, be it religion, gender and/or sexual orientation,” he lambasted.
“Churches are entitled to their opinions and religion (Christianity) as is the case with other religions such as Islam, Hinduism for example.” As human rights advocate, LSB stated that they will advocate, defend and protect the rights of other people. The issue of human rights, Lecha says is an international phenomenon that every being is entitled to – as long as it does not trample on the rights of others. EFB is entitled to their views and we are entitled to ours as well, they cannot impose their views on other people, he said.
The United States (US) will on the 3rd of November 2020 chose between incumbent Donald Trump of the Republicans and former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democrats amid the coronavirus pandemics, which has affected how voting is conducted in the world’s biggest economy.
Trump (74) seeks re-election after trouncing Hillary Clinton in 2016, while Biden (77) is going for his first shot as Democratic nominee after previous unsuccessful spells.
US Presidents mostly succeed in their re-election bid, but there have been nine individuals who failed to garner a second term mandate, the latest being George W H. Bush, a Republican who served as the 41st US President between 1989 and 1993.
Dr Mark Rozell, a Dean of the School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia describes the complex US electoral system that will deliver the winner at the 3rd November elections.
“The founders of our Republic de-centralised authority significantly in creating our constitutional system, which means that they gave an enormous amount of independent power and authority to State and local governments,” Dr Rozell told international media on Elections 2020 Virtual Reporting Tour.
Unlike parliamentary democracies, like Botswana the United States does not have all of the national government elected in one year. They do not have what is commonly called mandate elections where the entire federal government is elected all in one election cycle giving a “mandate” to a particular political party to lead, and instead US have what are called staggered elections, elections over time.
The two house Congress, members of the House of Representatives have two-year long terms of office. Every two years the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, but senators serve for six years and one third of the Senate is elected every two years.
For this election cycle, US citizens will be electing the President and Vice
President, the entire House of Representatives and one third of the open or contested seats in the Senate, whereas two thirds are still fulfilling the remainder of their terms beyond this year.
An important facet of US electoral system to understand given the federalism nature of the republic, the US elect presidents State by State, therefore they do not have a national popular vote for the presidency.
“We have a national popular vote total that says that Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump or in Year 2000 that Al Gore got a half million more votes than George W. Bush, but we have what is called a State by State winner takes all system where each State is assigned a number of electors to our Electoral College and the candidate who wins the popular vote within each State takes 100 percent of the electors to the Electoral College,” explained Dr Rozell.
“And that is why mathematically, it is possible for someone to win the popular vote but lose the presidency.”
Dr Rozell indicated that in 2016, Hillary Clinton won very large popular majorities in some big population States like California, but the system allows a candidate to only have to win a State by one vote to win a 100 percent of its electors, the margin does not matter.
“Donald Trump won many more States by smaller margins, hence he got an Electoral College majority.”
Another interesting features by the way of US constitutional system, according to Dr Rozell, but extremely rare, is what is called the faithless elector.
“That’s the elector to the Electoral College who says, ‘I’m not going to vote the popular vote in my State, I think my State made a bad decision and I’m going to break with the popular vote,’’ Dr Rozell said.
“That’s constitutionally a very complicated matter in our federalism system because although the federal constitution says electors may exercise discretion, most States have passed State laws making it illegal for any elector to the Electoral College to break faith with the popular vote of that State, it is a criminal act that can be penalized if one is to do that. And we just had an important Supreme Court case that upheld the right of the states to impose and to enforce this restriction”
There are 538 electors at the Electoral College, 270 is the magic number, the candidate who gets 270 or more becomes President of the United States.
If however there are more candidates, and this happens extremely rarely, and a third candidate got some electors to the Electoral College denying the two major party candidates, either one getting a majority, nobody gets 270 or more, then the election goes to the House of Representatives and the House of Representatives votes among the top three vote getters as to who should be the next President.
“You’d have to go back to the early 19th century to have such a scenario, and that’s not going to happen this year unless there is a statistical oddity, which would be a perfect statistical tie of 269 to 269 which could happen but you can just imagine how incredibly unlikely that is,” stated Dr Rozell.
BLUE STATES vs RED STATES
Since the 2000 United States presidential election, red states and blue states have referred to states of the United States whose voters predominantly choose either the Republican Party (red) or Democratic Party (blue) presidential candidates.
Many states have populations that are so heavily concentrated in the Democratic party or the Republican party that there is really no competition in those states.
California is a heavily Democratic State, so is New York and Maryland. It is given that Joe Biden will win those states. Meanwhile Texas, Florida and Alabama are republicans. So, the candidates will spent no time campaigning in those states because it is already a given.
However there are swing states, where there is a competition between about five and 10 states total in each election cycle that make a difference, and that is where the candidates end up spending almost all of their time.
“So it ends up making a national contest for the presidency actually look like several state-wide contests with candidates spending a lot of time talking about State and local issues in those parts of the country,” said Dr Rozell.
High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.
Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana. “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.
As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.
Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.
The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”
Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.
According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.
Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.
“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.
Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.
“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”
The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.
In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.