- Senior govt officials at each other’s throats over closure decision
- Church finally submits audited accounts but accounts highly questionable- Sources
- Khama wants the church to be closed down -Inside sources
Controversial Malawian televangelist, Shepherd Bushiri’s powerful influence is alleged to have swayed officials in the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs.
Since Bushiri’s letter to the Minister, Edwin Batshu on 17 January 2018 was received there has been vaguety over the decision to close down the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG).
The December 2017 decision by the Botswana government to close down the church for reasons of non-compliance of the law, in particular the societies Act, led to the church’s founder making a supplementary appeal to the Minister dated 17th January 2018 in which he humbly pleaded with Batshu not to de-register his church.
On the 24th of January the Minister responded to Bushiri through his Permanent Secretary Banny Molosiwa acknowledging receipt of the appeal and also stated that, “To give you the benefit of the doubt, the Minister has allowed you 30 days from the date of this letter, in which the church is expected to submit all the outstanding returns, with audited accounts, failing which the church risks de-registration. We will therefore wait to hear from you, for the Minister to make a final determination on the matter by 28th February 2018,” reads the letter leaked The Botswana Gazette from the church’s Pretoria office.
Copied in the letter is the Director of Civil and National Registration, who is allegedly unhappy with the decision by his superiors to be lenient with the church. There have been several meetings in the Ministry over the matter with the ECG file being tossed from the Department of Civil and National Registration office in Central Business District (CBD) to the Ministry’s headquarters in the Main mall. On Monday (Yesterday) this publication could not access the file as it was said to have been at the Ministry.
Impeccable sources have hinted that the matter will not go away soon, as President Ian Khama is said to be of the view that government should maintain its initial position to close down the church. Last year Khama’s government placed Bushiri under a visa requirement list in what was understood as a restrictive strategy. Bushiri did not bother to apply for the Visa and chose to stay home.
Meanwhile Bushiri’s church-ECG has met the deadline to have submitted the required audited accounts by the 25th February 2018. An impromptu meeting was held on Monday (yesterday) to discuss the submitted documents which are allegedly a shoddy job meant to save the church from the deadline. It is further alleged that one of the key procedural requirements which was not met pertained to the submission of three auditors to the department of Civil and National Registration for vetting by the government.
The other question which was raised by government insiders was that it appears the church has no actual physical accounts to be audited which raised questions on the authenticity of the submitted final accounts.
However, there are those who are of the view that some senior officials are applying selective justice to punish ECG as it is not much different from other churches or societies where compliance is a problem. It remains to be seen what final decision the Minister will make on the matter on the 28th February 2018.
ECG general secretary Pelotshweu Baeng’s phone rang unanswered by time of press.