Prophet Shepherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) yesterday failed to attend a crusade the National Stadium in Gaborone, Botswana.
The development comes amid visa controversy, whereby director of immigration, Mabuse Pule told Mmegi newspaper in May that Bushiri would require a visa to enter Botswana.
“It is true, but we never said he should not come to Botswana. We want to know when he comes here so that we monitor his movements,” said Pule.
As hundreds of people waited for Bushiri in the National Stadium yesterday, the Immigration Department said the expected prophet had not yet applied for a visa to come into the country.
Bushiri’s media officer Ephraim Nyondo confirmed the development and said local pastors would instead conduct the prayers.
“No [Bushiri]will not attend the prayers. He has just sent the Men of God there to handle the crusade,” Nyondo said in a telephone interview.
Asked if Major One had failed to land in Botswana because of the visa, Nyondo said: “He [Bushiri] has been holding large scale crusades in Nigeria and Cameroon. He is yet to engage the Botswana government on the visa issue, but his relation with Botswana remains strong.”
But yesterday, people, some of them sick and wanted to be prayed for, converged on the 22 000-capacity stadium from 4am.
There was no communication announced at the stadium till around 5pm, forcing some people to leave while others remained as pastors were ministering.
“The problem is that there is no communication as to whether he is coming or not. Media houses here are still airing adverts about his coming,” one woman said while leaving the stadium.
Friday evening, communications manager for immigration department in Botswana, Hanna Ramorogo told this reporter that Bushiri would not be allowed to attend the crusade.
“No, he [Bushiri] will not come because up to date, he has not applied for a visa. I am sure he is not coming since he was supposed to apply 14 days to the crusade,” said Ramorogo.
Security was tight at the stadium. A police officer who did not want to be named, said there were 91 police officers on duty around the stadium.
“I am not aware if he [Bushiri] is coming. Our duty is to provide security. We are 91 officers here,” she said.
This story was produced in collaboration with INK Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit newsroom to develop investigative journalism in Botswana and Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi.