Sunday, September 21, 2008

Remarks by His Honour Lt. Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe, MP, Vice President Of The Republic Of Botswana, Officiating in Mochudi

source: Republic of Botswana (20/9/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 28 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

B3) 16/9/08: Remarks by His Honour Lt. Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe, MP, Vice President Of The Republic Of Botswana, Officiating at the Mochudi All Churches Advocacy Sensitisation Rally on Alcohol Abuse and Multiple Concurrent Partners as Drivers of HIV Transmission - A Church - Amest/PSI Botswana Supported HIV/Aids Intervention Program, Mochudi Kgotla

[Salutations]...Borra Le Bomma Bakreste-Ba-Gaetsho

1. Let me thank you for inviting me to join this solemn assembly here today to sensitize our people about the dangers of alcohol abuse and other related vices such as multiple concurrent partners.

2. Bagaetsho, the abuse of alcohol is a serious problem for this country. It has and continues to cause carnage on our roads, resulting with many orphans and maimed people; exacerbates the spread of HIV and AIDS as well many other social problems.

3. At the risk of being blasphemous, let me say as Christians and people of God, you may be aware that this problem is perhaps as old as mankind. It was there in biblical times and it is here with us today.

4. You all know the story of Noah and the wine on Genesis Chapter 9 verses 20 to 24. It says: ...and Noah began to be a husbandman and he planted a vineyard. And he drank the wine and was drunken, and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, (his son) saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brethren who were outside. And Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon their father's shoulders and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father and their faces were backward and they saw not their father's nakedness.

5. Of course upon recovery from the wine Noah did not find anything wrong with his drunkenness, he just was not happy with his son and cursed him to eternal servitude.

6. And we all know the story of Lot (Genesis 19:33) who fathered his daughters' children simply because he was always too drunk to see them sneak into his bed in their eagerness to preserve what they called their father's "seed".

7. Bagaetsho, the dangers of alcohol abuse are many and varied. Experience elsewhere has shown that alcohol abuse can undermine the development of a country; lead to moral decadence and the break-up of families.

8. For us as a country facing the debilitating scourge of HIV/AIDS the need to arrest the problem of alcohol abuse is even more urgent. Under the stupor of alcohol there is high possibility of engaging in risky sexual behaviour that can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

9. Researchers have also found that, heavy drinkers are much more likely to be non-adherent to ARVs, than those who do not drink. This is a very serious finding which could have devastating effects in a country where most of the population is on ARV medication.

10. I am heartened however, that the Government and the private sector as well as the civil society in general are currently involved in a dialogue to explore ways of curbing alcohol abuse in this country.

11. Let me point out that contrary to popular sentiment, the Government is not out to destabilize the beer industry, we just want to address a troubling problem of alcohol abuse that has sadly caused loss of lives and destroyed the future of many people. We are open to all viable options in this regard.

12. Bagaetsho, Charity begins at home. Alcohol abuse may turn out not to be the problem per se, but a symptom of social and cultural challenges facing our society today. As families - that is fathers and mothers; uncles, aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers, we should continue to play a guiding role in our communities within the context of our cultural norms and values.

13. Kana, a nation that ignores its culture is bound to go astray. We therefore need to revive our family and community structures to ensure that our children and brethren, who are facing social pressures of one form or another, do not find solace in the can.

14. The Church too should continue to provide moral leadership through community programmes that teach people about the dangers of alcohol abuse and multiple concurrent partners as well as others that undermine the moral fabric of our society in general. This means that we must equip parents, teachers, religious and community leaders, who are the key gatekeepers, with relevant skills and information, to improve communication including child parent communication. In this context, I am heartened that after Mahalapye, we are gathered here again today in this noble endeavour.

15. As you know His Excellency the President has established Social Values Committee, in which the Chairman Reverend Moruakgomo, sits, to explore possible strategies to address the deteriorating discipline in our society today. We remain hopeful that if we continue to work together as Government, teachers, parents, traditional leaders, churches as well as other members of the civil society to enhance advocacy and to inculcate discipline in the consciousness of our people and children, we will prevail and make Botswana a better place to live in.

16. Master of Ceremonies, Bakgatla, on the 20th of this month it will be the coronation of Kgosi ya lona Kgafela Kgafela. Ga lo apesa Kgosi ya lona nkwe, please rest assured of the Government goodwill and support. Let us all pray to Almighty God to Bless the Coronation of Kgosi Kgafela and give him many, many years; the wisdom and protection to lead his people into a brighter future.

17. Bagaetsho, it is now my singular honour and privilege to officially launch and declare: A heightened advocacy campaign by the Church against Alcohol Abuse and Multiple Concurrent Sexual Partners, here in Mochudi, this Fourteenth day of September in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Eight. Pula!

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