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05 Mar 2019

By Richard Moleofe

The church remains to be one of the strongest institutions in Botswana and it will be a grave mistake by anyone to overlook it. It holds so much power in its hands but the problem is that they are not aware they do.

Any politician should listen when the church speaks. But politicians care less about this institution because the church does not know and understand its potency. This is why it has not put its foot down on the issues bedevilling this nation.

But it is a very dangerous thing to have power and not know it. The church holds the moral compass of any nation. Through its membership, this gets to permeate all institutions through its general membership. The judiciary, the police and many others should do things the right way because they know that the people in their ranks are members of the church and they lead upright lives.

We live in an era where members of the church are implicated in corrupt practices without any form of shame. People can steal from businesses they work for in order to go and bless their pastors.

The church leadership has challenged to meet President Masisi in order to mediate in the continuing feud between him and his predecessor. Masisi should send the church packing because they are part of the problem and they cannot all of a sudden become a solution.

The reason why the ruling BDP has been in power for so long can be highly credited to the efforts of the church. The church has not been friendly to the opposition. It was only in 2014 that we saw a shift in this practice.

The previous elections have seen the opposition making much gain and exceeding the 50% mark in popular vote. This was largely due to the sympathy to the death of Gomolemo Motswaledi. This political icon was a great pillar in the church and particularly the UCCSA which is a popular and influential church in this country.

Motswaledi was no ordinary member of the UCCSA, he was deeply involved in the activities of the church. He was an eloquent speaker and a choir master. His funeral could only be surpassed by that of the first president of Botswana.

Currently the church wants to intervene in the ongoing feud between the president and his predecessor. That sounds like a noble idea if you are an outsider from elsewhere in the world.

Khama was in power for ten years and the church was always praising him for nothing. This is a man who has caused untold suffering during his two terms as president. Democratic institutions collapsed under his watch as he clasped every one of them into his iron fist.

The judiciary collapsed as he appointed and fired judges irrespective of what the Judicial Service Commission had to say. The Ombudsman was reduced to a mere constable while the corruption bursting agency was staffed with relatives and stooges.

The intelligence agency became a monster that the citizens feared. People spoke in hushed tones because freedom of speech was totally eroded. If I list all the former president’s misdemeanours, I will not be able to make my point before I run out of space on this column. But the church watched as Ian Khama was created into another Hitler of Africa.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who vehemently opposed Hitler during the Second World War. Through his preaching, he was declared a dissident. This is a man who clearly outlined the role of the church in society and especially regarding issues of justice.

He was widely influential in society and went on to write a popular book, The Cost of Discipleship, which is still a classic. He opposed the brutal genocidal persecution of the Jews and the program of euthanasia. For his widely known opposition to the Nazi regime, Bonhoeffer paid with his life in the twilight of the regime.

The church in Botswana has been leading the chorus of praise for the dear leader. The former president has no right to be complaining about how this country is run. It seems some sector of our society seem to entertain his antics.

President Masisi should dismiss the church forthright. It is the same church that has allowed the collapse of our democratic institutions. It was under the church’s watch that corruption festered in this country. The billions lost through corruption have eaten away the quality of our education. It has eroded the capacity of our health care system and many have lost lives as hospitals have no ability to deal with the growing sick population.

Therefore the church has lost that moral ground to say anything now when they have been silent when the looting occurred. So please remain silent until JESUS comes again. Amen!

I have been portrayed as someone who writes to defend President Masisi. Indeed he has been an accomplice during the regime of Khama when the looting went on 24/7. Yes indeed he has been there as vice president. But that does not give the former president the right to violate the presidency.

Botswana has had one party rule since independence in 1966 thanks to the church. The church has revered the ruling party and has detested the opposition in the past. They should have encouraged and cultivated democracy and even caused a change of government.

The church has even used scripture to validate the continued election of the BDP. Many have followed blindly because the BDP has recruited the clergy in order to have a grip on their following.

Masisi has lost focus in his leadership because of Khama. The church must not compound the problem by asking for meetings to reconcile the two. What reconciliation?

For some in the church, their justification for retaining one party in power for more than half a century was for the reason of keeping the freedom of worship. Yes indeed! We now have total freedom of worship in the midst of gross injustices with corruption at the top of the list.

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