Church in Botswana speaks out

From www.mmegi.bw

25 May 2011

GOTHATAONE MOENG
Staff Writer

 The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) has called on all parties in the ongoing public sector strike to resolve their differences as soon as possible.

 In a strong worded statement issued yesterday, the church also accused government of abusing state media and bringing the education sector to a complete mess.

 “We wish to reiterate our concern on the prevailing situation.  As the UCCSA we call upon you as our elected representative armed with a vote of confidence through your having been elected to cause those you lead with, that is the cabinet and the President of this country, to treat the obtaining situation as a national crises.  We are concerned that as our leaders you seem to treat this as “business as usual” and even more disturbing are statements and insinuations that all is well and normal even when the reverse is all true,” said statement from the church synod signed by Reverends Dumi Mmualefe and Kenneth Tlhabiwa.

 Quoting the Bible, the church called upon political leaders to treat the current situation as a crisis. “We call upon you to lobby for reconvening of Parliament to address the crisis we are in and declare this ‘a national crisis’.  We further call upon you to lobby for the setting aside of all resources and effort to focus on this crisis”.

 The church said it is concerned that the rights of the electorate are usurped by the political parties. “We note with sadness that party caucuses have metamorphosised into a major enemy of democratic representation.  It is our humble opinion that once one is elected their primary loyalty should be the electorate.  Unfortunately, once one is elected, the electorate becomes irrelevant, as the loyalty is demanded by political parties.  This has made it almost impossible for the elected leaders to apply their minds and consciences to issues of national importance”.

 The church said that in the future it is going to teach its congregation and the nation at large to reject leaders who become more loyal to political parties than to the electorate once they are elected. “We are concerned that during this time of need a good number of you have been silent as those oblivious of the reality on the ground. 

 This is no time to play party politics, it is a time of crises, a kairos moment that demands collective positive response.  Unfortunately we have witnessed our leaders play politics especially with lives of our children, the future of this, our beloved nation”.

The church condemned government abuse of state media to mislead the nation. “Democracy is not simply an election time event.  In fact democracy is not an event but a way of life, it is a journey. One of our focal points intended to enhance democracy in Botswana is articulated in the Nation Vision 2016 that we will be an informed nation.  Information, they say, is power.  The important question we need to ask is “what kind of information?”  Needless to say, it is correct information.  Correct information is balanced information”. 

 “We wish to remind the government that public media is run with public taxes. It is the duty of the government to ensure public property is used for the interest of the whole public.  People all over Botswana, especially those in rural areas where only Radio Botswana and BTV can reach deserved to know there is a looming crisis so that like everybody else, they could take necessary precautions”.

The church stated that it fully supports the demand of the workers for a 16 percent salary increase.

 On education, the church lamented the bad state in which students find themselves due to collapse of the sector, as witnessed during last year’s examinations and the recent closure of government schools. “It is sad as it is, worth noting that the performance of those who sat for their BGCSE cannot be deemed representative of their academic capabilities.  This is so because, despite denial by the government they cannot be said to have written under normal circumstances. This is reflected by the general percentage performance of schools, as for those who will be sitting their BGCSE this year, they are faced with an even bleaker task, while they are behind in terms of syllabi, some have not even started their projects which are due this term”.

 “We note with trepidation the statement by President Ian Khama made to the effect that his government will not repair property damaged by students last Monday, May 16th  2011. We hold the view that the government must be held responsible for what happened on Monday as the latter had been advised to close schools, even by the UCCSA but resisted as things “were normal.”

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