source: Republic of Botswana (29/6/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 9 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"
B4) 28/6/10: MESSAGE BY HIS HONOUR, THE VICE PRESIDENT LT. GEN. MOMPATI S. MERAFHE, MP ON THE OCCASION OF THE “THANKSGIVING “CEREMONY AT SAINT JOHN’S APOSTOLIC FAITH MISSION CHURCH IN SEBINA SUNDAY JUNE 27, 2010
[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. One afternoon about a few years ago, I was having an informal meeting with a good friend of mine and a man of faith. Our discussions, of course, focused on issues of common interest, including the “Role of the Church in Nation-Building”. This friend of mine talked at length about a wide range of topical issues relating to the scourge of HIV and AIDS, road accidents, the so-called passion killings, substance abuse and moral degeneration. Of great interest was the pivotal role the Church could play in mitigating those challenges. This man of God concluded that the very said problems which besiege us cannot be resolved by Government’s intervention alone, as the moral fabric of society is a root-cause of the problems which we face today. In this regard, the role of the Church in partnership with Government and other stakeholders in addressing the said problems cannot be underestimated.
2. I hasten to add that even the “Doubting Thomases” of this world would have acquiesced in his message as a mere matter of fact – in every word – as it captured the challenges we face in our daily lives. For a person in my position, who also knows the power of divine intervention in dealing with complex issues, I was encouraged to note that one of the Church Leaders in Botswana saw things in the same light.
3. Once upon a time, there were values within our communities which espouse the spirit of “botho”. Equally enviable was our strong “family support system”. However, as my friend and I nostalgically discussed the merits of these ideals, it all sounded distant. It seemed that our nation was undergoing a process, one that could at best be described as “self-discovery” and that those of us who have lived long enough to witness our country’s socio-economic transformation, could only wax in nostalgia.
4. Looking back upon that period, almost a decade later, one is struck by the immensity of the claims which are always put forward to justify this sad state of affairs! But what is even more striking, and more to the point, I think, is the paucity of the actual achievement which emerged from it. In essence, our society seems to be content with the issues of road accidents, substance abuse, poverty and the prevalence of HIV and AIDS scourge.
5. But one is struck also by another fact, and one that seems to me to have gone unrecorded. Over the last few years, there has been muted response from the significant section of our society, particularly the Church. The Church, which should play a role of the last line of defence against any societal problems, should come out from the shadow and assume its rightful place of being a lighthouse of dignity, discipline and democracy. Any interpretation of this reversal of roles, although it goes deeper than mere role-playing since it touches upon our own livelihood and existence, is bound to be a difficult one. Like the lost flock, we seem to inadvertently overlook the challenges that lie ahead. However, with enormous sacrifice and commitment from all of us, I have every reason to believe that there will be a change in our mindset.
6. There is, first of all, the question of moral regeneration, which will provide certain clues to the renewal of hope for this nation, amidst all the challenges we face today. I have alluded earlier to the importance of ensuring that the Church becomes a leading light, a place for comfort for those seeking solace, in the midst of all personal and societal challenges. To achieve this feat, the Church should refrain from taking a path of self-destruction, hypocrisy, internal squabbles and divisions, but lead by example.
7. Botswana, like many leading democracies in the world, upholds the principles of freedom of religion and freedom of association. To this end, Government remains committed to these ideals, and will always act swiftly to curb any move, individually or collectively, which seeks to undermine the enjoyment of these basic principles within Botswana. Government cannot achieve this alone. We therefore count on the support of everyone, including our tribal authorities.
8. I have been informed that the Sebina Circuit of Saint John’s Apostolic Faith Mission has set out goals not only to preach and spread the Word of God, but to also give to the needy communities in terms of basic needs like housing, clothing, food and funeral services. Your efforts to provide for the needy deserve our commendation as they contribute, in no small measure, to the fight against poverty. You will be pleased to know that Government has identified poverty eradication as one of the Flagship Programmes that need the support of charitable organisations and Church Ministries alike.
9. I wish to conclude my message by once again, commending you for supporting Government’s efforts in fighting poverty. I affirm that my Government is eager to strengthen its partnership with the Church community in addressing the issues of our time for the betterment of our people. I thank you. May God Bless you all!