By Maynard Manyowa
For nearly a month now, Prophet Bushiri and his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church have been the recipients of attack after attack from an orgy of Bishops in Zambia, who first called a whole press conference and then made false claims to the effect that the charismatic cleric had made a prophecy predicting ‘civil war’ in the country.
The said ‘Bishops’, Bishop Banda and Bishop Imakando provided no tangible evidence that such a prophecy ever occurred. Initially, they were even ignored, because the policy of the church is not to dispel any and all utterances made by people of questionable mental faculties.
Yet, for some reason, high offices in the country decided to launch an assault against Bushiri, first using traditional state media to vilify the man, then physically assaulting his father Prophet Uebert Angel, and his wife Beverly, before deporting them for no reason.
Then came a full-fledged assault on social media, print media, and in some sectors broadcast media. Buoyed by this, the bishops started calling for the cancellation of mining licenses belonging to firms owned by the cleric.
That is where Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu ought to be very circumspect. The press conference may not even rise to the level where it qualifies as nonsense, but calls for hostility are worrying and dangerous. For that reason, the ‘nonsense’ conference must be dispelled.
First and foremost, the prophecy on a civil war in Zambia is bogus and simply untrue. ECG has availed raw footage of the service in particular, and not a word of that nature was ever uttered. Even inaudibly.
President Lungu, whom the bishops want to act against Bushiri needs to understand that these bishops are not driven by an agenda to save the people of Zambia. Nay, they are worried that the rising stock of Bushiri is such that their own followers, whom them offer the gospel without reward, will soon flock to ECG, where Bushiri guarantees to make millionaires out of peasants, and the results are there in abundance.
But such should not motivate the President to act in defense, but rather assist him in shunning the efforts of these bishops because of the brazen mischief that informs them, and the risk that any executive action against Bushiri may hold against the people of Zambia.
Secondly, Prophet Bushiri does not benefit anything from ministry in Zambia. He leads his ministry in that country for no reasons beyond compassion and calling. He is not fleecing the people of Zambia, the rogue Bishops are the ones doing just that.
Bushiri does not depend on church funds from Zambia, the Bishops do however. Instead Bushiri has created jobs in Zambia, created opportunities for wealth, and is lifting hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty.
He is an investor. The Bishops angling for a fight between the state and the cleric are poor rubble rousers whose only business is to fetch tithes and offerings from the church.
Thirdly, Zambia’s economy has taken a nose dive since global copper prices fell. Electricity has become an issue. Food prices are rising. The government has identified Foreign Direct Investment as a solution to the crisis.
Bushiri has pumped millions into the Zambian economy. He is an investor, and ought to be treated as such.
He has not broken any law in the country, he has not cut any corners. Instead, he is assisting in the rehabilitation of the economy. The insecurities of rogue bishops who claim that the cleric has ‘stolen their church members’ must not be allowed to hold the country ransom.
It is conceivable, that the government, might consider siding with the bishops, on the grounds that, Zambia, though a secular republic, is predominantly Christian. But such a move would be based on fallacious assumptions, of the same cloth as the fake prophecy.
The bishops have no capacity to turn the people of Zambia against the President. By their own admissions, their flock is leaving enmasse destined for ECG. A week after the Prophet warned the Bishops not to cause unnecessary feuds, and promised to act, attendances at the bishop’s churches fell by half.
The reactions on social media alone are equally instructive. Thousands of people rose up ‘against’ the governments perceived hostility against Bushiri, and the rogue Bishop’s selfish feuds.
If it is a game of numbers, then it only stands to reason that President Lungu should side with the people of Zambia, and Bushiri. Because that is where the majority is, and where the remaining minority is headed.
But perhaps that would be a self-serving base to make the decision. The President ought to act without preserving self. If so, then the President ought to act because Shepherd Bushiri does not have a single interest in Zambian politics. His interests are in business, human capital development, humanitarian works, and social capital development.
He ought to be judged by what he has done so far. Which is the millions he has graciously saved through charity, the millions of dollars he has invested into various sectors in the country, mining included, and the millions of people, whose lives he has changed. The millions of people, who love Zambia, love God, and are equally loved by Bushiri.
The President, Edgar Lungu, must reject any mischievous attempts by these rogue bishops, and those they handle, whose desire is to plant a wedge between the 1st citizen and the cleric. He must instead embrace the cleric, and together deliver prosperity to the people of Zambia.
The mining minister has already ruled out cancellation of Bushiri’s mining license, on the grounds that it is legal, and beneficial to Zambia. But more needs to be done. The President needs to reject all attempts to nurse hostility. Prophet Bushiri is a friend to the people of Zambia. He is not the enemy from far away. The rogue bishops just maybe the enemy from within. The proverbial Judas.
- Maynard Manyowa is a journalist and the co-editor of Khuluma Afrika. A non-partisan center for political analysis.