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Why does God permit suffering? Part 2

Joseph Nkwatle

“Many see the work of evil, with its woe and desolation, and question how this can exist under the sovereignty of One who is infinite in wisdom, power, and love” Ellen G. White.

Bishop Duncan Nicholas William’s response if you look at it has its root from the New Testament and premised upon the redemptive work of Christ that saw the birth of the Church. His response came about because of the question of why God allows evil to take place on earth. The bishop alluded to the fact that God is not in charge of this world; Satan is the god of this world and that God gave the Church to have responsibility of that which has to transpire on earth. An important facet in the whole question of evil is the role of Satan. While the Bible does not give us many details about the rebellion of Satan save for the Pre-Adamic World theologians! It appears that prior to the events recorded in Genesis 1-2, a created order of personal beings called angels were tested morally. Like man, they were created with freedom of choice.

Talking of freedom and choice brings me to a point that I need to highlight and that is; man- human being is God’s special creation. Man (by man, my reference includes both male and females) is created in the image of God and possesses moral nature, that makes him unique from all creation both visible and invisible. It has always been God’s intent that man should fellowship with Him out of choice. Such choice should be freely made fueled by one’s love for God. If the capacity or freedom to make independent moral decisions is withdrawn from man, he becomes less than human. The fact that God made man with the awesome capability to make moral choices does not automatically charge Him with responsibility for what man does with that power. Similarly God cannot impose Himself or His choice on human beings; that is why Christianity does not force itself on people!

There is a phrase that is repeated about three times in the epistle to the Romans chapter one and it is, “God gave them over.” When as human beings we persistently refuse the light and love of God which He makes available to us, God eventually leaves us to become what we are demanding. The awful fate of those who, by their own choice, rule out all conviction of the Holy Spirit is that they become what they are capable of becoming apart from God. Hell is a place which is populated by those individuals who pushed God out of their lives and have at last received what was their demand. The cruelty and verdict of a life lived for self, rather than for God, is terrifying to contemplate. Romans Chapter One gives us a graphic illustration of the historic unfolding of moral evil. Genesis 3 depicts the story of natural evil. Man’s choice to disobey God not only corrupted his own moral nature, but also resulted in the disordering of the created world, his own environment. Physical suffering is pictured in Scripture as part of the legacy left by man’s sinful choice.

Evil is a force rather than to say it is a thing, it is a disordered relationship. It was by his own personal choice that man chose to enter into a disordered relationship with God. Satan decided in himself to engineer a rebellion and one-third of the angels who sided with him were cast out of heaven. Evidently Satan has been allowed a limited space of freedom in which he carries his operations, and it includes among other things access to the minds of human beings. That explains why I said in one of my writings that temptation is an outward force – Satan is the tempter, destroyer, and enemy of humanity and God! The book of Revelation however, parades the manner and order God is going to permanently stamp out Satan and evil.

Let me conclude with one spiritual principle in Scripture and it is found in Psalms 115:16, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.” This is a spiritual principle, a cardinal decree of God well known in all realms of the spirit – the earth belongs to human beings. God is a Spirit, for Him to manifest on earth He does so by getting human permission, He must find a human being and work with his will to get done what He intends. That is why Jesus had to become a human being to actually redeem mankind! God has His servants on earth whom He has raised so that His will be carried out through them. Just like bishop Williams say, God has raised the Church (human beings) to be the vehicle through which He can influence the world. Men and women of God are simply God’s medium to the rest of humanity. Jesus the Christ said about the Church, “I will build my Church against upon the rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it” So nothing or no one, including governments can prevail against the Church.

Satan is also a spirit, he also obeys this cardinal principle set by God, and there is nothing he can do on earth without the aid of a human being. Satan works by manipulation and utter deception. These are the tools he uses to manifest evil on earth. In John 10:10, Satan is described there as the thief who only comes to steal, kill, and to destroy! Through witchcraft he places curses of all sorts on individuals, families, and nations to propagate evil. Satan also has servants whom he uses to cause pain and suffering to humanity and persecute the Church. Bishop Duncan Williams was so right when he said, “The Church is supposed to be in charge of this world because God has given us the responsibility to govern the earth, Jesus said “Occupy till I come.””  “When the church does nothing, we fold our hands and hold our peace and seat back; we allow the devil the freedom to steal, kill and destroy, and to have a field day to do as he (devil) pleases.” The Church in Botswana has to yield its will to God in intense prayer, so that God will use it mightily in these days and times!


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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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