Pretoria – The spokesperson for Charismatic billionaire preacher Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, Ephraim Nyondo has explained why the leader of Enlightened Christian Gathering Church asked his church members to deposit donations into his church’s accounts this last week.
Speaking exclusively to Khuluma Afrika, Communications Director Ephraim Nyondo told Khuluma Afrika that the request for contributions was in line with church precedent and meant to help alleviate the effects of Covid-19 across several countries.
“We have 700 branches across the world and in nearly 30 countries. At least 10,197 people are employed formally in the ministry, as pastors, security personnel, intelligence officers and other different posts”, he said.
“All of these people depend on the salary they draw from this employment. Add to that there are nearly 20,000 other paid volunteers. All of these people would starve if the church shut down and cut off their salaries”, he added.
In a viral video, Prophet Bushiri had been captured asking his congregants to send contributions to an account number of a local bank.
Several people on social media raised eyebrows, asking if such requests were reasonable given the impact of covid-19, a severe respiratory illness that has brought several countries to their knees.
In response, Nyondo told Khuluma Afrika that the request for contributions was not sent to South Africa, but to all other countries on lockdown.
“As it is, out of the 29 countries which have ECG branches, less than 5 have lockdowns. The prophet didn’t ask people in lockdown to deposit money. He asked those watching him worldwide to contribute and these contributions are meant to help alleviate the effects of covid-19 around the world.” he said.
Nyondo added that South Africa only accounted for 1/45 of satellite viewers who tuned in for ECG services online and on television.
“There is a shortage of beds and ventilators all over Africa and South America right now. The prophet is coordinating the purchase of over 250,000 ICU units and nearly 90,000 ventilators across the world. He asked his 44 million viewers to help him join the fight against covid-19”, he said.
In 2019, Bushiri spent nearly millions of dollars in relief efforts after a deadly cyclone, named cyclone Idai killed thousands of people and left several homeless in Southern Africa.
Nyondo added that the requests for contributions were in line with church precedent.
“We did this with Idai last year. We did it even this year with maize in Zimbabwe. In Malawi as well. We have been leveraging our members and partners to save lives in all these countries. This is a fact.”, Nyondo added.
The head of legal services at the ECG church Terrance Baloyi added that Bushiri stood to benefit nothing from the requests for contributions.
“The prophet is a multi-billionaire in US dollar terms (sic). He stands to benefit nothing from contributions. The thing is, if the church folds, we are looking at around 50,000 families who are going to lose income, food, and shelter. If he allowed that to happen people would cry foul. He isn’t asking for South Africans to contribute. He is asking for his worldwide audience of nearly 45 million to help in the fight against covid-19” he said.
Baloyi also told Khuluma Afrika that the fight against covid-19 was not just about food and shelter.
“Look, the prophet is building hospitals in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. He is purchasing ICU units to help the fight against covid-19. As we speak he has spent millions of personal money. He is merely asking for contributions so that the church plays its part.”, he said via instant messenger WhatsApp.