Minister Edwin Batshu says he will meet the fuming evangelical churches body
The Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Edwin Batshu has said that he will meet evangelical churches to dialogue with them following their petition over the government’s intention to raise the number of people required to register a church from 10 to 250.
In an interview with WeekendPost, Batshu said he recieved a letter of complaint from the churches body, Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB). “I have responded to them in the form of an acknowledgement letter and we have to meet and discuss the issue.” Batshu would not be drawn into discussing the details of the matter. However he indicated that he wants the meeting to bring satisfaction to both parties.
WeekendPost has gathered that the EFB will decide on the next course of action following the meeting with Batshu. The move by the Government also intends to curb too many breakaways, mushrooming of churches and widespread reports of pastors who preach false gospel for commercial reasons.
The EFB is aiming to convince the Government to retrace its steps on the decision as it deems it as an infringement on the freedom of religion and that of association.
The churches had threatened to sue the government on the decision but later decided to dialogue with the Minister with the hope of swaying him to their side. However, it is understood that the EFB will hadly achieve their objective as the president, Lt Gen Ian Khama is also unhappy at the way things have turned out in the pentecostal sect.
His views are that we used to have a few churches in Botswana but today everyone has his own. “Some even have strange and difficult names and most of these church leaders prefer to be referred to as Bishops and will kill you for calling them a priest. I would not be surprised to hear that we also have a pope here in Botswana,” Khama said at one of his meetings with Batlokwa.
The President also said that most of these churches are led by foreigners, most of whom are also owners, adding that you will find someone calling himself a Bishop when he has less than twenty members. “Way back foreign pastors were allowed to stay and work in Botswana without permits but that was back then when we ran short of qualified ministers. We are working around the clock to address these matters,” he said.
The evangelical churches have been accused of, among others, claiming miraculous healing and stealing from the poor as well as promoting mushrooming of churches through splitting.
The mainline churches are reported to have had a hand in the decision and recently publicised their support for the decision. They have been alamingly losing membership in to newly established churches that preach prosperity, miraculous healing, marriage and employment prophesies among others.
Pundits however say the church bodies may remain polarised even in the future on issues of national interest. The EFB has been critical on the government and other partners around several issues.
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.