Churches under the auspices of Evangelist Fellowship of Botswana (EFB) are lobbying the government to appeal a High Court judgment which recently ordered that Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) be allowed to legally register their association.
Initially the association was denied registration by the Registry of Societies under the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (MLHA) on grounds that homosexuality is illegal in Botswana. The ministry refused to register the association on the basis that the Botswana Constitution does not recognise homosexuals and that the objectives of the intended organization are contrary to Section 7 (2) of the Societies Act.
Following the judgment, EFB took a position to pressurise the government to appeal the ruling in which the High Court Judge Justice Rannowane’s ruled that LEGABIBO be allowed to register. EFB’s stand is that: “the judgment is injurious to Godly norms, values, priceless principles, and indeed a relegation of the Christian norms and Tswana customs to the peripheries.”
The applicants in the LEGABIBO case, Thuto Rammoge and 19 others took the matter to court seeking a declaration that the decision of the Ministry to refuse the registration of LEGABIBO was in contravention of section 13 of the constitution in so far as the said decision has the effect hindering the applicants in their freedom to assemble and associate.
The president of EFB, Pastor Master Obololetswe Matlhaope told the Weekend Post in an interview this week that they are against the judgment as it is likely to cause a spin in an acceleration of moral deterioration and moral bankruptcy which will add to the already burden of lawlessness and social ills bedeviling our schools.
“We are aware that the judgment does not decriminalize homosexuality however, ordering the registration of LEGABIBO whose objects are to advocate for recognition and protection of homosexuality is a hammer to our society’s moral conscience,” the outspoken Pastor stated.
With regard to facing any defiance from LEGABIBO itself and Botswana Network on Ethics, law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) while executing the controversial plan of lobbying government to appeal, the EFB President highlighted that in discharging their objectives they are guided by unshakeable values of being assertive and candor to God mandated course.
“One of our objectives as EFB is to sensitize the nation on trends of emerging spiritual challenges, likely to undermine scriptural foundations of the gospel and to be a prophetic voice of the nation,” he stressed.
When Matlhaope was quizzed if the churches, by advocating against LEGABIBO’s objective of campaigning for equal rights and decriminalisation of same sex relations, actually disregard essential human rights like the right to choice of sexual orientation, he indicated that, “in a republic, a person is not born in a lawless jungle but under a parentage of a State governing by laws. The laws governing a state are representative of the people’s conscience-their rights and wrongs.”
The Pastor said Botswana’s penal code deals with issues of conscience, and any future amendment of the same should be cognisant of the people’s conscientiousness. Human rights, he said, should have limitations and should not override the society’s conscience.
“Our country’s constitution provides for such rights but also prescribes their limitations. There should never be limitless freedom of association and expression, any such, is not acceptable in our view because it would be portraying a society without moral conscience.”
According to Matlhaope, same sex relations are abhorrent to creation and nature. Spiritually and naturally there is a complementary difference between men and women, he said adding that this means that men are spiritually and physically created to fulfill the role of males as husbands, fathers, and brothers and females are created to fulfill their roles as wives, mothers, and sister., (Gen 1:26-27,; 2:21-25, Eph 5:22-32, Col 3:18-24).
“This difference of complementarities is divine and timeless. Both the male and the female are endowed with distinct complementary features, and both posses equal dignity before the Almighty,” he stated.
In relation to protection of minority rights in a society and whether there is anything wrong with one being gay or lesbian, he said that firstly the argument that some people are born with homosexual tendencies and hence should be given space does not hold.
He added: some people seem to be born with tendency towards violence but this does not justify violent act. Some are said to be born with tendency towards alcohol abuse but this does not justify drunkenness, he continued. Biblically and naturally, the EFB leader said homosexuality is unnatural and comes about when we abandon our natural inclinations.
“Minority rights must be defined and contextualized. Minority as far as race, religion, language or political persuasions are concerned should be protected. But minority of social aberrances such as bestiality, pedophile, cleptomaniac, homosexuality etc is abhorrent and should be shunned,” he advised.
He also cried foul that humans have propensity to do wrong and such an inherent propensity is not necessarily wrong but the actualisation of the wrong is not right.
In case their plea to persuade government to appeal the judgment does not pass, EFB believes that “with or without appeal, the Scripture will not change and the Church’s stand is based on Scripture and will not change. At the end, there is an eternal judge, who will judge all. God’s moral character does not change. God’s ethical imperatives are in accord with his unchangeable moral character.”
The EFB president further asserted that: “God loves the sinner but hates sin. He loves a murderer but hates murder, in the same way God loves a homosexual and has died for them on the cross, but He hates homosexuality. He describes it in His word as unnatural, impure, indecent, perverse, and an abomination.”
EFB is the Umbrella body of Evangelical, Pentecostal and Para Church organizations in the country. It boasts of a membership with denominations and organizations which have member branches across the country. Currently such a membership stands at seventy nine (79) and the voice of EFB is a collective voice of this membership.
LEGABIBO was founded in 1998 to advocate for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. LEGABIBO’s main objective is to raise awareness, educate on health and psycho-social support and mediates between the LGBTI community and others.
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.