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SDA factional wars reach High Court

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The High Court has ordered warring factions of the Seventh Day Adventist Church to go back to the drawing table to discuss their differences and settle for the middle ground.

This came after the church withdrew an urgent application it brought against three of its pastors – Dr Boitirelo Kabo, Phemelo Seboka, and Othibetse Nelson Simankane.

In their papers, the church accuses the pastors of unlawfully extending their term in office at a conference held from November 25-27th which decision was later reversed by the church on December 4th.

“The respondents are hereby interdicted and restrained from executing any duties purportedly bestowed on them on the 25th and 27th November 2019 because they are not supposed to be in these positions by the reason of the fact that they were not duly and lawfully elected,” the church papers read in part.

Dr Kenaope Kenaope who is the president of the Botswana Union Executive Committee (BUC), a governing body of the SDA said that in 2018 the church engaged the services of Mazars Forensics to conduct audit of the South Botswana Conference an organ of the church.

The audit was conducted for the period of January 1, 2015 to December 2016.

“On the 25th June 2019, at the applicants Special Executive Committee Meeting, it was stated that the report revealed gross negligence and control lapses by the SBC Administration and Treasury Department,” said DrKenaope.

The meeting resolved to report the matter to the police who then responded that they would collect SBC accounting files but there was resistance from the respondents.

“On account of refusal by respondents to provide the necessary documentation, the Botswana Police Service approached the Magistrates Court seeking an order compelling the SBC to comply accordingly.

In response to the court order, the SBC instituted proceedings against Botswana Police Service to stay the decision of the Magistrates Court pending its review.

The basis of such application is at this point still not understood by the applicant,” Dr Kenaope said in the papers.

Dr Kenaope said that the SBC proceeded to hold meetings in November 2019 where they were elected to another term in office despite legal action instituted by the church.

The applicant as the mother body governing the SBC considered the outcome of this November 2019 Session as illegal and contrary to the SBC constitution and bylaws.

It was raised that the respondents had passed an unconstitutional decision to self-appoint themselves and extend their term in office.

However, in their replying affidavits, the pastors denied any wrongdoing. They further denied that the BUC is the highest decision making body of the church saying its mandate is to give direction and to ensure that the church’s standards are complied with.

“The applicant ought to have pointed out by way of clear averments why it thinks or believes it possesses highest decision-making powers,” they said.

The pastors say that the country is divided into two – South Botswana Conference and North Botswana Conference to ensure that they run the SDA Church in conformity with the ideals and beliefs of the church. They argue that the BUC is a separate entity.

The pastors further argue that BUC had no competence or jurisdiction to engage Mazars auditors and that the draft report and final report have not been presented to them or before the court.

“We as the executive committee of the SBC have always called upon the BUC to furnish a report of the audit being referred to and the BUC has consistently failed to produce same”.

The pastors argued that the SBC is an autonomous body with sufficient internal control and investigation capacity.

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Politicians clash over Covid-19 meeting

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The fight against Covid-19 stepped into the periphery of partisan politics this week as the absence of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders sparked accusations and counter-accusations over their invitation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s closed meeting.

UDC President, Duma Boko and party vice president, Dumelang Saleshando, were not part of the delegation that attended the three-hour long meeting.

Although Masisi stated that Boko, like other party leaders was invited, the UDC has vehemently denied the claim.

In a press release that was issued last night the UDC said. “We have noted the events that have been evolving around the Covid-19 pandemic, its a serious matter that requires all of us to work genuinely. We value and encourage national dialogue on important matters such as the fight against Covid 19. The truth is that the UDC president has not received any invitation from Office of the President and we call OP to provide proof.”

However, when the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa was asked about calls made to him by OP, he said, ” I was asked about Boko’s whereabouts by Kaelo Molefe and I told him I was in Phikwe. I asked him to check him at his house. This morning I got another call from Professor Mpho Molomo who said he had Boko’s invitation to a meeting with President Masisi and I suggested that they go to his house, an address which is popular within the government enclave. I indicated to him that I had received a similar call from Kaelo Molefhe and he said he was with him. Kaelo knows where Boko stays having been his associate in the build-up to the 2014 General Elections. So quite frankly I doubt he would say he does not know Boko’s house. As regards Nick and Keorapetse I cannot comment on their behalf, ” explained Mohwasa last night.

Dithapelo Keorapetse too said that the OP was being playful. “Why would they contact me for DGB? They are aware of his PA, VP, Secretary General, Spokesperson and UDC NEC. These are the people from who to check him. Whoever wants the UDC President from me for official things is playing. The state has been to his house several times. How did they suddenly forget his place of abode? Even Kaelo knows Boko’s House from his UDC days, ” said Keorapetse.

The accusations did not go well with the BDP Chairman of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, who expressed concern that the UDC was turning a pandemic into a political mudsling.

He said that all efforts including calls, text, WhatsApp messages to Boko, Moeti, Keorapetse and Boko’s bodyguard were made without any success. “There is a communication trail to prove this. UDC must know when to come to the table and be patriotic on issues on national interest such as COVID-19, its very disappointing for a party calling themselves an alternative government to behave in this manner but Batswana are watching and we know they will punish them for this.”

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BPF opposes 6 months State of Emergency

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Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) president, Biggie Butale, yesterday broke ranks with other opposition leaders parties as a opposed a six-months long State of Emergency proposed by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, at a closed meeting.

Although other party leaders such as the president of Botswana Movement for Democracy, Sidney Pilane, Vice president of Alliance for Progressives, Wynter Mmoltsi and Gaontebale Mokgosi of Real Alternative Party, supported Masisi’s move, BPF took a different stand. “State of Emergency must be used only in extreme circumstances and now we at BPF are not comfortable with it because once it becomes a habit, maybe in the future government may not be as kind as the current government and find an opportunity to abuse it.”

Butale however said that the meeting for all party leaders was useful and that it would go a long way in enhancing Botswana’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Masisi’s call for six months of State of Emergency follows the unrelenting global rise in coronavirus cases of which Botswana has since recorded.

Today Masisi was scheduled to meet cabinet and all members of Parliament as he continies to lobby for a six-months long State of Emergency.

The president has since explained that should the situation improves then they will stick to the initial 28-day lockdown plan which started on the 2nd and ends on April 30th.

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