By Theresia Tjihenuna and Tuyeimo Haidula
THE recent visit to Namibia by prophet Shepherd Bushiri has enraged some Namibian church leaders who said he just came to make a fortune from vulnerable and desperate people.
Bushiri had a crusade at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on Friday where more than 20 000 people were estimated to have braved the rain to attend.
A day before the crusade, the Malawian-born prophet had a gala dinner hosted for him at the Ramatex complex where more than 3 000 people paid N$1000 each to attend. Sixteen people paid amounts ranging between N$10 000 and N$110 000 to just sit close to Bushiri during the gala dinner.
He moved around with a police escort and the hotel where he was booked into was under police guard. Clem Marais, the Council of Churches in Namibia deputy president, said they were concerned with the proliferation of churches in the country and fly-by-night prophets.
“Even if we disagree with what is happening, we have no authority or mandate to act on it. We only represent 16 churches in Namibia,” Marais said.
The leader of the Association of Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches of Namibia pastor Fritz Gaweseb said people should stop running after prophets for miracles.
“I have serious reservations about Bushiri. He is deceiving people. Is it only foreign pastors that can perform miracles such that people run whenever they come while local churches are empty?” he asked.
Gaweseb said the huge crowd at the Sam Nujoma Stadium shows how desperate people are and they look for hope but from the wrong people.
Home affairs permanent secretary Patrick Nandago said Bushiri was here on a work permit, while finance minister Calle Schlettwein said what the prophet came to do in Namibia qualifies him to pay tax.
“I suspect that he did not pay any tax but I will find out for you tomorrow,” he said.
Although home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana said she would find out how Bushiri was allowed into the country, she told The Namibian yesterday that they were aware of prophets who come under all sorts of pretext.
She said some prophets exploit the fact that South Africans do not require visas to visit Namibia.
“They come here and some of them do not have any relations with us. Some come through the trade and industry or the health ministry,” Iivula-Ithana said. “We are crafting something to look into some of these things. Those capitalising on our circular state come here and practise witchcraft under religious cover.”
Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga said the Khomas regional commander told him about a letter from the committee that organised the Bushiri gathering requesting police deployment for security reasons because of the magnitude of the people expected to attend.
“We could not anticipate what would happen. If there is any loss of life, or property because of lack of security, it will be the police to blame. It was just to maintain law and order in case anything happened and the police would act,” he said.
The crusade organisers yesterday said Bushiri did not pocket a single cent from the gala diner where promotional materials such as hats and T-shirts, holy water and anointed oil were sold.
One of the organisers, Salome Kambala, who is also home affairs spokesperson, said the money raised at the crusade stayed in the country and will go towards the upliftment of orphans and vulnerable children.
“Prophet does not need the money. He is already a billionaire. He owns several mines, including one in Sudan,” said Kambala.
She said Bushiri is only a “seasonal prophet” and that he came to preach the Gospel without expecting anything in return.
“He is in demand. In fact, his next stop is Brazil where he was also invited to preach,” she said, denying that Bushiri moved around Windhoek surrounded by bodyguards