The recently deported American anti-gay pastor Steven Anderson’s church, the Faithful Word of Baptist Botswana has been operating illegally in the country, it has emerged.
Anderson was recently declared a Prohibited Immigrant and deported out of the country following instructions by President Ian Khama after he was accused of hate speech during an interview with Gabz FM radio station.
Sources within the government enclave say intelligence failure is to blame because neighboring South Africa had publicly announced barring him from addressing a church congregation in that country.
They say the country’s security services should have taken a cue from South Africa and advised government accordingly.
South Africa barred Anderson from entering that country following a petition from gay and human rights activists.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Pearl Ramokoka said her Ministry was not aware of any arrangement concerning the Faithful Word of Baptism Church from Arizona United States of America led by Pastor Anderson who is alleged to be assisted by evangelist Garret Kirchway.
Responding to queries from The Telegraph the Ministry said it never received any application for registration of the Faithful Baptism Church and as such the church is not registered with the Registrar of Societies.
On reports that government ignored a petition by Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS to bar Anderson from setting foot in Botswana, Ramokoka dismissed such reports as untrue.
“The Ministry does not have any information about the alleged intended petition by any community to the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs or Government of Botswana regarding the two pastors,” she said.
She explained that citizens of the United States of America do not need a Visa to come to Botswana therefore no applications were received from the pastors who are citizens of America.
But BONELA insists that Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu has failed to advise government on whether to bar Anderson from addressing a church congregation or to set foot in Botswana.
Information has emerged showing that two days prior to his arrival in Botswana, Batshu together with some government officials convened a meeting with BONELA to get an opinion from BONELA on why Pastor Anderson should be denied entry into the country.
The meeting was also aimed at informing Batshu of an intention by the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) to protest against Anderson’s entry into the country. BONELA Director Cindy Kelemi said it is regrettable that Anderson was allowed entry into the country to utter hate speech which could have long been avoided.
“Government ignored our warning and look at what happened. It is regrettable that government has waited for the Pastor to be able to utter words which are degrading and inhuman and further perpetuate stigma and discrimination to homosexuals, women and children.”
She added that “You know we have engaged and warned government about this particular individual but she went ahead and issued a visa and this is regrettable because as NGO we represent the interest of the people.”
Kelemi said “Government misinformed us because they have made it clear that Pastor Anderson would be in Botswana on the 25thSeptember but look, two days later the man was in Botswana uttering hate speech and we later witnessed as he was being booted out of the country and the question is why we allowed him in the first place.”
She said government could have avoided bad publicity that came with deporting the pastor because they had an informed opinion after the meeting between BONELA and Labour officials including Batshu.
President Khama was quoted by some international media as saying that he had ordered for the deportation of Pastor Anderson.