In a fresh move against Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church, the acting Commissioner of Police, Tapudzeni Gabolekwe has instructed all Divisional Commanders, Directors, Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to ensure that the church and all its local branches did not congregate nor undertake any church activities.
This comes after the church was deregistered, albeit under mysterious circumstances in August this year.
Apparently, the church was informed about the decision to de-register it on July 25, 2019 reportedly after failing to adhere to rules and regulations since 2016.
When Mmegi first wrote the story in August this year, the former Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Ngaka Ngaka and the ministry’s public relations officer Hannah Ramorogo said they were aware of the matter, but could not share much detail as to why the facility was de-registered.
Ngaka had briefly said in a phone interview that time that he was aware but asked the reporter to call back in the afternoon, as he was unable to discuss the matter at that particular moment. However, his phone rang unanswered and he did not return Mmegi calls when he was contacted at the agreed time.
Although it has been close to five months now since the church was told to stop operating, it is said that the church’s National Executive Committee, was yet to inform its 60 branches across the country of the de-registration, but it is continuously carrying out activities and receiving money from members in the name of the church despite having been told not to do so.
In a Savingram dated November 11, 2019 seen by Mmegi, Gabolekwe states that notwithstanding its de-registration, it appears the church continues to operate unlawfully within the country.
“We have therefore been requested to intervene and ensure that the church and its branches around the country did not congregate nor undertake any church related activities. Lastly, contents of this savingram are to be given the widest publicity to ease implementation,” read the savingram in part.
Contacted for comment, the church’s Executive secretary, Pelotshweu Baeng said they were aware of government’s decision.
He also said they were in the process of complying with the regulations and was hopeful that they would have submitted the audited financial statements as required from 2013 to date by Wednesday. This is despite his previous comment denying the development.
“Of the 60 branches, only two have not paid the external auditors for the audited statements to be released. We inherited a system where money was handled by pastors and have had to work hard to correct this things,” said Baeng.
Bushiri’s church has in the past been entangled in a bitter war with the government, and was at some point, de-registered for amongst other things not submitting audited financial results for two financial years and internal fighting by its leaders.
The battle ended at the court, but later the Registrar of Societies re-registered the church in 2018.