The past few weeks since the coronavirus was first detected have been unusually cataclysmic. These are days of abnormal fear, panic, anxiety and hopelessness with towering ramifications on human health, financial security, social life and future goals.
Fear, loneliness and stress have become companions in homes. When social and spiritual interactions are thwarted, not by choice but by circumstances beyond our control, we are forced to adjust.
Despite that many people have been locked out in their houses and out of their means to earn a living, clerics are continually asking them for “seed money”.
In one video that’s being circulated online, billionaire preacher Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is captured asking his congregants to send contributions to a certain bank account number.
Several people raised eyebrows, asking if such requests were reasonable given the impact of COVID-19 that has brought several countries to their knees. It turns out that the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church leader’s monetary appeals were good-intentioned.
His Church’s spokesperson, Ephraim Nyondo, is on record saying 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.
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,” Nyondo told Khulumaafrika.com.
He added 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.
“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 added.
Nyondo said that the requests for contributions were in line with church precedent as they have done similar initiative in the past with Cyclone Idai and the El Nino-induced drought across the region.
The head of legal services at the ECG church Terrance Baloyi added that Bushiri stood to benefit nothing from the requests for contributions.
Baloyi also told Khuluma Afrika that the fight against COVID-19 was not just about food and shelter. He said Bushiri was building hospitals in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and purchasing ICU units to help the fight against the coronavirus diseases.
To date, the pandemic has infected more than 1,312,628 and killed over 72,636 people.
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