- “Bushiri wrote me a letter pleading”- Batshu
- New dialogue with Bushiri frustrated officials- “It’s unnecessary”
- ECG given 30 more days to sort itself out or face shut down
After a bold decision to close down the Enlightened Christian Gathering-ECG, the church of popular televangelist Shepherd Bushiri- it appears government has decided to be lenient in finalizing the decision following a plea by the Malawian.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette recently, Minister of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu revealed that the closure of the church was suspended following a letter from Bushiri. “He was pleading with me to give him a bit of time to address our concerns. I have given the church 30 days to have complied with everything and I informed them that failure will leave me with no other choice but to close down the church,” he said.
Responding to Bushiri in a letter also seen by this publication- Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Banny Molosiwa, pointed out that government was not interested in closing down churches but to ensure compliance, failing which there is no choice but to shut them down. In the letter, ECG is warned that failure to comply will mean government effects the decision it took in the letter of December 2017 to the church.
Government’s decision to cancel the church’s registration last received both widespread condemnation and applause, with critics of new age churches saying the move would protect gullible affiliates who are “swindled off their hard-earned cash” by their unscrupulous leaders- while supporters saw the move as unwarranted, unconstitutional and discriminatory.
Meanwhile, investigations by The Botswana Gazette show that ECG has still not filed what was required of it by the Registrar of Societies. The church was de-registered through a letter of 6th December 2017 by the Registrar Michael Mokgautsi who wrote “Your society has not responded to the notice of the 10th November 2017…” and to show cause why the church should not be closed.
It was required in the letter that the church submit audited annual returns in terms of the Societies Act Chapter 18:01 Section 16 (1) as read with regulation 15 of the Act. The church however ignored the government’s demands and continued with its business.
Government had previously summoned ECG to the Civil and National Registration office for a meeting on 5th November to compel it to comply but the church executive did not turn up.
Following its registration revocation, ECG General Secretary, Pastor Peloetletse Baeng last month revealed that they had appealed the decision in line with Section of 11 (4) of the Society Act which advises that those whose registration was cancelled may appeal to the ministry within 28 days from the date of a cancellation letter.