A week after raising grave concern about how foreign Muslim and Hindu people dominate Botswana’s national economy, Gaborone North MP, Haskins Nkaigwa, has followed up that statement by proposing that Botswana should be declared a Christian state as well as alleging that money from Jwaneng gem diamonds may be filling up the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria coffers.
Asked by Sunday Standard to explain the Christian state, the MP said that the declaration he proposes would give the country a “spiritual foundation.”
A week earlier in parliament, referring to the national leader by all but one his titles, he had stated that “the President of this country, Dr. Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama [should] dedicate this country to God because that is one thing that we need to work on as the foundation of our nation.” By standard economic metrics, Botswana is doing well and for much of the 1980s and 1990s, enjoyed Africa’s longest and one of the world’s longest economic booms. However, the country’s level of poverty remains egregiously high for an upper-middle-income country and with a Gini co-efficient of 60.5, Botswana is the third most unequal country in the world after South Africa and Seychelles. Nkaigwa told parliament that this discrepancy will stay for as long as Botswana remains a secular state.
“Even for the working, those that we think they are working, they still continue to languish in poverty. But your programmes that you can come up with will not work because this country has not been dedicated to the Almighty God,” he said.
To Sunday Standard, the MP explained that in practical terms, dedicating the country to God means declaring it a Christian state and that when that happens, God will shower the nation with blessings because it would now have the spiritual foundation it currently lacks.
“It all starts with the spirit,” said the MP who gave Zambia as an example of a country that has dedicated itself to God in the manner he describes such dedication.
The other example he gives is of the Republican Party in the United States which has a strong theocratic bent. He doesn’t say this but in 2003 when the country was embroiled in war in Iraq, the daily briefing notes that the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, gave to President George W. Bush (a born-again Christian) were illustrated with quotes from the Bible.
As Nkaigwa told parliament, in a dispensation where Botswana’s Christian identity is not given spiritual prominence, foreigners from other religions have taken over.
“What worries me, Mr. Speaker, is that the economy of our beloved country Botswana is in the hands of foreigners, and foreigners that I am referring to are foreigners of Muslim religion, are foreigners of Hindu religion. What also worries me is that, if we were to look for the Top 10 richest people in Botswana, you will not find a Christian amongst the Top 10 richest people in Botswana,” said the MP adding in another part that “it is Christians that continue to be destitute and to languish in poverty.”
His elaboration on the latter point outside the chamber was that all over the world (especially in Africa) the resources of Christians are plundered by people from other religions. In his conversations with what he describes as “top men”, he learnt that on account of an economic dispensation that favours Muslims over Christians, African resources are used to fund terrorist groups like ISIS.
At least one Christian MP, Ignatius Moswaane of Francistown West, felt that Nkaigwa had crossed the line but in his attempt to rein him in, only succeeded in being kicked out of parliament for the umpteenth time. Moswaane raised a point of order to the effect that Nkaigwa’s words were “Satanic” and full of “religious racism”. The three-way exchange between the Deputy Speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi and the two MPs degenerated to a point where Nkaigwa made startling insinuations about Moswaane’s private life.
“Nothing shall deter me from telling the truth,” said Nkaigwa and turning to a party colleague from South East, delivered a below-the-belt blow. “Honourable [Same] Bathobakae, I think you can handle Honourable Moswaane better because I think he happens to wake up in your constituency every day.”
His point of order denied, Moswaane said he was “not going to listen to a stupid pastor like him.” He followed up with “stupid Nkaigwa. Never ever!” When Molatlhegi cautioned that Moswaane that he would be throw him out of the house for using such language, the combative MP shot back: “I don’t care!”