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EFB issues ultimatum to politicians

Former President, Mogae

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.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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