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Fire churches plan to take Govt to court

OAIC president, Tebogo Motlhagodi

Government has taken a strong decision to control the multiplication by way of registration of new churches by amending the Societies Act. According to the latest government gazette, a new church will require 250 members to register. This is a steep increase from the previous fuigure of ten (10). Evangelical churches argue that the new figure is unreasonable and almost impossible to achieve.

The government has gazetted the decision, this followed lenghthy consultation process with stakeholders. Other societies other than churches will now need a minimum of twenty members (20) to register from the previous ten while churches will need 250 or more. It is understood that the move is calculated to remedy the government’s failed attempt to regulate and monitor societies.

The Societies Act has all along recognised a society as any club, company, partnership or association of 10 or more persons, whatever its nature or objects. The move by the government intends to curb too many breakaways, mushrooming of churches and widespread reports of pastors who preach false gospel for commercial reasons.

Of the three Umbrella bodies representing the church in Botswana, two agree with the government decision while one, the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) posits that the decision by the government to increase the registration eligibility number from 10 to 250 is not only unreasonable but also impractical – hence a constitutional infringement on the people’s freedom of religion and association. A new church, they say, cannot have 250 members when even long-existing churches do not have that number.

They are saying they are still considering taking legal action to challenge the decision at the courts. The church body, it is understood, met with their lawyers on Wednesday to discuss the issue. EFB president, Rev Master Matlhaope said he was not ready to comment on the issue.

The Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), president, Tebogo Motlhagodi said they together as the churches Umbrella bodies proposed the change to the government. “We proposed the issue to the government together with that one of a religious council to cover matters of the gospel because it was clear that the government was failing alone,” he said.

Motlhagodi stressed that his churches no longer want any new church registered as there are enough churches for the nation to attend. “In the churches I lead we have over 600 congregations, EFB has over 500 and the same applies to mainline churches. What more do people want,” he charged.

His views are shared by Botswana Council of Churches leader, Rev Mpho Moruakgomo who says the move is intended to curb unnecessary breakaways among other things. He however concurs with EFB that the increase in number might make it difficult and impossible to register a new church. “We will be there watching, if we learn that it is difficult to register new churches we will after some time summon the government and review the decision,” said the BCC president.

Should EFB challenge the decision, observers say the case may have similarities with that of the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) against government where the state may be forced to register a movement or organisation by the courts.

Renowned University of Botswana academic, Rev Dr.Obed Kealotswe commended the government’s decision saying it was long overdue.

“Three years back I was invited by BTV with my colleague Rev Dumie Mualefe. We made a very strong recommendation that one way by which the proliferation of churches could be controlled is by separating the registration of churches from that of ordinary societies. I had recommended at least a hundred people instead of ten members,” he said.

He said: “If the Government has recommended 250, as long as measures will 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.”

 However, he said the government should take note of the fact that there are some other world religions which are not Christian. “Members of such faiths could not be as many as those of the Christian faith. Some provision should be provided for such faiths. As a conclusion, I wholeheartedly support the amendment,” he said.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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