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Fire churches body petitions Govt

The Umbrella body of pentecostal and evangelical churches, Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) has petitioned the government over the decision to amend the Societies Act and increase the number of members required to register a church from ten(10) to two hundred and fifty (250)- a number which evangelical churches argue is unreasonable and almost impossible.

The churches in the letter argue that the decision will infringe on fundamental freedoms of association and religion as it is in simple terms barring new churches registration. Among other points, the churches argue that 250 is a number too big for a new church as is the case even within long existing churches.They further argue that the decision renders the Registrar of Societies incompetent to arrive at such a decision. It is understood that the move is calculated at remedying the government’s failed attempt to regulate and monitor societies.

The Societies Act has been saying that a society is any club, company, partnership or association of 10 or more persons, whatever its nature or objects. 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.

Other umbrella bodies in Botswana Council of Churches and the Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), are not part of the petition as they share the view with government on the issue.

WeekendPost has it on good authority that the president, Lt Gen Ian Khama was also behind the decision after several briefings from the Ministry. In Tlokweng last year, Khama made his views known over mushrooming of churches.

We quote him verbatim, “I was recently told by my minister that the numbers are in hundreds and I was shocked at this because what I know is that we used to have a few 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,” said Khama.

The president continued 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.

Earlier when the news broke, the EFB threatened legal action but has since chosen to engage the Ministry, responsible with the hope of ‘bringing sanity to the issue’. It is understood that they backtracked on the issue after been advised that only a party being denied registration has legal right to sue.

They have thus chosen to write Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu a hard-hitting letter on the issue, further asking for his audience over the matter. The EFB leader, Rev Master Matlhaope said he was not in a position to comment on the matter.

University of Botswana academic, Rev Dr. Obed Kealotswe has hailed the Government’s decision but said measures should be put in place to make sure that unregistered churches are monitored since they are the ones which bring many problems to the Christian and non- Christian communities in Botswana.

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Botswana approves extradition of British fugitive

20th March 2023

Raiz Ahmed Tayub, a British fugitive sought by Interpol for his involvement in human trafficking and slave trade crimes, was captured by the Botswana Police Service (BPS) earlier this year.

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BOCRA detects new cyber attacks targeted at Botswana

20th March 2023

Government owned communications regulator, Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) recently detected several cyber-attacks targeted at national information and communications infrastructure, companies and home routers in this country.

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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP

17th March 2023

As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.

Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.

Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.

He made a special appeal to the PAP:  “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”

Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”

According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.

As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.

The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.

Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.

Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.

He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.

“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.

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