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Bushiri’s followers in Botswana unfazed

Yvonne Mooka

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Shepherd Bushiri of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), popularly known as Major One, has a strong support system in Botswana.

As Major One’s church in Pretoria, South Africa faces uncertainty, his Botswana followers are adamant that nothing can move them when it comes to him. The church’s planned grand opening service in South Africa, the first service of 2019 which had been scheduled for Sunday – was postponed to an unannounced date in the future. This is after three women were killed in a stampede at the ECG church during a service on December 28. Nine other congregants were injured as they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm. The dead women were identified as Patricia Pringane, Matshila Sarah Mohlala and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi.

Pastor Baeng Pelotshweu, General Secretary and National Coordinator of the church in Botswana told The Midweek Sun this week that they are safe and sound in Botswana. “All our 56 branches are fully operational and they have already submitted their last Sunday reports to the head office in Gaborone,” he said, explaining that the prophet had announced that all church branches should start their 2019 services on January 20. Pelotshweu said that no one has come to them threatening to close down their churches, stating they are complying in Botswana.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Pretoria, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) led protests at ECG, with community members calling for the church to be expelled from the Pretoria showgrounds forthwith. Last Sunday, ECG spokesperson Maynard Manyowa told SA media that the highly popular church would open its doors “when we are ready” and that the church, had from Sunday declared seven days of prayer and fasting. “When we are ready we will open. The rest regarding everything is being handled by CRL commission,” the church said in a brief response.

In Botswana, Pastor Pelotshweu’s take is that Major One is under attack because churches are losing members to his. “It’s just individuals, pressure groups, especially other churches that are losing members to him. These big numbers coming to Major One were once members somewhere else. People dying is not an issue. Even here in Botswana, there have been incidents during gatherings where people lost their lives,” he said, adding that ECG crisis is also fueled by xenophobic behavior in SA.

The leader also said that they will always defend their prophet. “Just like Elisha who followed Elijah, we have no doubt that Major One is a prophet of the Most High God. We are his stewards. We don’t listen to any stories about him, and we don’t care what he has done or what people say. We will always protect and defend him. We care about him and the God he serves and we’re not ashamed to defend him,” he said.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

The MidweekSun Admin

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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