- No credentials, no pulpit
- New law to stop churches as purveyors of money laundering and terrorism
- Non-compliant churches to be closed
Pastors who do not possess any theological educational qualification will be barred from practising, according to strictures in the new Societies Act of 2022. In fact, the government will not hesitate to de-register and close down all non-compliant churches under the new law.
According to the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Motse Otlhabanye, strict enforcement of the new governance requirements for churches is driven by a need to curb issues of terrorism financing and money laundering that have become a serious global concern.
Otlhabane emphasised that Botswana was grey listed partly because of the government’s failure to close such gaps.
The Chief Registration Officer at the Registrar of Societies, Ofentse Gojamang, says the government will soon begin the re-registration of societies into a new database where only those compliant will be admitted.
Meanwhile, the coming of the new Societies Act has divided the Church. Some denominations have interpreted it as a tool for use against the Church as the body of Christ and its health and growth in Botswana while others have welcomed it as a means to encourage and promote accountability of Christians whose religion is the most dominant in Botswana.
In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, the president of the Organisation of Independent African Churches (COIAC), Dr Philemon Motlhagodi, expressed concern that the government does not fully engage the Church when making changes that affect it. He said his prayer is that the new law will not be used to impede growth of the Church.
The MP for Palapye, Oneetse Ramogapi (UDC), slammed the Act as an unbiblical attempt to censor the Church. “Pastors are called by God,” Ramogapi said. “Some have never gone to school but they are pastors no less. The Church must stand up and refuse the draconian laws that persecute it.”