* Major 1 not aware of visa requirements
* It’s for security reasons- Minister Batshu
Popular Prophet, Shepherd Huxley Bushiri of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church has denied any knowledge of visa requirement recently imposed on him by Botswana Government.
Speaking in an exclusive telephone interview with The Voice on Wednesday night, head of Public Relations at Bushiri’s ministry, Ephraim Nyondo said ‘Major 1’ (Bushiri is popularly known by that name by legions of his followers) had not received any official information from the Botswana Government concerning a visa.
“We are completely in the dark about visa requirements. And as you might know we have just arrived in Malawi from South Africa,” Nyondo explained.
He continued,“ We have never been required visa application by all African countries we have visited, this would be a first for us, but we will comply with the Botswana law and we will be in Botswana next month because plans are already afoot for that trip.
Nyondo said that they were surprised as to why the prophet was listed for visa application to enter Botswana when he was not a security threat.
“We will however respect the laws of Botswana and apply for a visa if that’s what they want us to do because we are not out to antagonize leadership,” he said.
The Government gazette titled declaration of persons required to obtain a visa reads “ This is hereby given that in accordance with regulation 5 of the immigration (Visa) regulation, the minister of nationality, immigration and gender Affairs hereby declares that Shephered Huxley Bushiri of Malawian nationality is to obtain visa to enter Botswana.”
The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Edwin Batshu confirmed the listing was authentic.
Asked to clarify the issue Batshu said, “he has been added to that list for the purposes of monitoring exercise. I cannot tell you any more reasons why he has been put under that list.”
Meanwhile, the Director of immigration, Mabuse Pule said that they need to know whom Bushiri will be travelling with and why he will be in Botswana.
“We also need to monitor his movements. This is purely for security reasons,” he said.
Pule would however not be dragged into commenting further on the nature of security threat Bushiri posed.
“I received a directive. I simply follow orders,” he noted.
Batshu’s confrontation with ‘fire churches’ came to a head in November 2016 when he passed the controversial Societies Amendment Act, which introduced the increase in the number of persons required to form a religious organization from 10 to 150 in a bid to curb the mushrooming of churches, which he said was becoming worrisome.
He was quoted saying it was particularly churches under foreign leadership who appeared to be “economic missionaries”, attracted by the country’s economic status that were his main target.
Batshu’s presentation was however received with mixed feelings in parliament resulting in drama as Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane broke his glasses in protest against the amendment, while MP for Sefhare/Ramokgonami Dorcus Makgato threatened to strip naked and Mahalapye East MP Botlogile Tshireletso broke down in tears.
“Bushiri, often addressed as “Papa” and Daddy has a large following in Botswana, a country he lived in for a while before he relocated to South Africa.
We have a lot of members in Botswana at the ECG branch and also those who visit the church in Pretoria. We will be in Botswana next month,” Bushiri’s s spokesperson declared.