Johannesburg – The government of Botswana confirmed the closure of Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) in Gaborone, reportedly due to concerns over so-called “miracle money”.
The Botswana Gazette reports that Bushiri’s church, the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), was shut down following the violation of Botswana laws.
ECG allegedly continued the practice of “miracle money”, even after being issued warnings to stop.
The use of miracle money, which the Botswana government considers illegal, led not only to the closure of the church but also to a call for all home cell meetings of the church to cease.
Malawi24 reports that the church has appealed against the decision, taken less than a year after he was in effect banned from entering the country. He had been due to attend a conference.
However, Botswana minister Edwin Batshu announced in April 2017 that Mr Bushiri would need a visa to enter, despite Malawians not usually needing one, according to AllAfrica.com.
The church is said to have been under investigation since 2017 following alleged financial mismanagement among other issues.
On December 6, Michael Mokgautsi, Botswana’s Registrar of Societies, announced that the church will be shut for good, with the Botswana Gazette obtaining a letter informing management the “registration” had been cancelled.
“I hereby give notice that, in terms of section 11 (3) of the societies act, I have this day cancelled your registration under the said act on the following grounds: 1. Your society has not responded to the notice of the 10th November 2017 in which it was required to show reasons why it should not be cancelled. As per section 11 (4) of the societies act you may appeal to the minister of nationality immigration and gender affairs within 28 days from the date of this letter,” it read.
Bushiri has also come under fire over the exorbitant fees that he charges his followers to see him. He charged R25 000 for a seat at his table at a gala dinner reportedly held on 23 December at the Pretoria Showgrounds.
The newspaper further reports it was the church’s use of “miracle money” – promises of money appearing as if by magic – which broke the country’s laws.
Mr Bushiri – who has more than 2.3 million likes on Facebook and filled Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium on New Year’s Eve – and his church have yet to respond publicly.
The church leader is known as much for his lavish lifestyle as for his successful ministry, which stretches across Africa.