Africa-Press – Botswana. The African Gospel Church congregation in Gaborone has been advised to pray for rain.

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi made the call during his visit to the church on Monday, taking note of the El Nino inflicted drought season which the country was currently experiencing.

The climate phenomenon has affected weather patterns, resulting in high temperatures and low rainfall impacting negatively on food production.

On that note, he appealed to the church to do as it did in the past when it was requested by Dikgosi to pray for rain as the country was hit by severe drought.

President Masisi said back then, the prayers were answered and the country received some rains.

He said the African Gospel Church congregation could use their divine powers to pray to God, so that he opens the heavens for the rains to wash away the heat and hunger that resulted from the severe consequences of El Nino.

“I appeal to you to pray for rain and I’m hopeful that your prayers will have the same feat, he said.

He said government, had through various programmes assisted farmers to cultivate their land with hope of producing enough food to sustain the country, but their efforts were frustrated by the scotching heat.

Dr Masisi said as a result, the country would experience low yields, which would ultimately lead to high food prices, a situation that would impact negatively on many households.

The President said his visit to the church was not the first and would not be the last. He said during his past visit in Mmandunyane, a number of issues were discussed of which some were resolved while others were still in the process.

One of the issues that needed urgent attention was the renunciation of citizenship, and President Masisi said it was his belief that those affected by the case have been accordingly assisted.

He applauded the congregation for their support to his government and respect for peace, the rule of law and governance.

He said it was important to observe that they never get tired of engaging government on issues of concern, adding that the current regime was of a democratically elected government that would always take heed of issues raised by the people.

The President said the church must also be applauded for taking the lead in promoting the principle of self-reliance.

The President appreciated the congregation, which is predominantly Bazezuru, for their strong hold on vocational skills and culture which they had been using to make a living and also contribute to building a knowledge-based nation.

President Masisi said their vocational skills were without doubt commendable and an important aspect of their livelihoods.

Therefore, he said their request to be allocated a plot to establish a vocational institution or workshop would be attended to by the relevant government authorities.

He also advised them to take note of the fact that the development process was a journey undertaken through development plans which were periodically renewed.

Taking note of the National Development Plan 12 (NDP12) which government was currently working on, Dr Masisi said he would accordingly urge officials to take heed of the church’s request and ensure that they were not left behind by the planning process.

He assured them of their right to religion, noting that government would do all in its power to protect them and even ensure that they continued with their religion without fail.

“I will not be fully executing my duty as President if I do not ensure that your constitutional right to religion is not compromised. I have sworn to protect you and your rights as per the prescribed laws of the country,” said President Masisi.

He even assured them that the Constitutional Amendment Bill would not in any way affect their right to practice a religion of their choice.

President Masisi had also reminded members of the African Gospel Church of their right to register and be in a position to vote in the coming elections.

All Batswana aged 18 years and above have the right to register for an election and vote, as such, he made them aware that voting was a democratic process and the pinnacle of democracy that was used to build a government.

President Masisi said it was their constitutional right to elect a government of their choice at the coming elections.

He urged them to ensure that peace and tranquility reigns in the country.

Presenting their report, church elder, Mr Judah Zikhale shared with President Masisi their request to extend the church plot and to establish a vocational workshop for carpentry, among others.

The church was allocated the current site in 1988. Mr Zikhale also added that the church was determined to partner with government towards addressing social challenges such as unruly behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse by empowering the youth with vocational skills to improve their livelihoods in line with what the church promoted.

The church teaches responsible behaviour and does its best to encourage people to follow Christ, he said.

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