Botswana to clamp down on churches
Gaborone – A bill intended to curb the mushrooming of churches will be tabled in Botswana’s Parliament next month.
Botswana Labour and Home Affairs Minister Edwin Batshu is expected to table the bill, which requires 250 people to register a church, instead of the current 10.
According to the bill, pastors and marriage officers will be subjected to thorough vetting, a first for the country which has over 15 000 churches.
Parliamentarians are currently consulting their constituents ahead of the tabling in February.
The bill seeks to establish an advisory and arbitration council that will verify the credentials of churches, pastors and marriage officers. It will allow the labour minister to interfere in church disputes for the first time.
The country’s church leaders have expressed mixed views to the proposed law.
“I don’t have a problem if government establishes a council to monitor and hear our grievances. We have many problems such as access to land,” prophet Enock Raditloaneng of the Zeal of Fire Mountain church told Sapa on Thursday.
He agreed that pastors, churches, and marriages officers should be vetted.
“People need trustworthy people,” he said.
By establishing a council, government would show it recognised churches and their role in the society.
“In the past government only came in when we have problems,” Raditloaneng said.
The current Societies Act, which governs churches, was last amended 20 years ago.
Prophet Mogotsi Baloyi of the Compass International Assembly, said the bill, if passed, would allow government to trample on people’s constitutional rights such as freedom of association.