Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader, Shepherd Bushiri. File photo by Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA).

PRETORIA - Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader, self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri on Friday thanked Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi after Gaborone reversed a travel restriction imposed under former president Ian Khama over “security concerns”.

A delighted Bushiri said the move was "progressive".

"This is quite a progressive move. It will help me travel to Botswana easily to grow our church and, most importantly, to resolve some of the compliance issues of our church in Botswana," said the charismatic preacher known as "Major One" by his followers.

ECG spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo said their church has over 55 branches across Botswana.

"Prophet Bushiri says the move, also, reaffirms Botswana government’s commitment and respect for people’s religious freedoms," said Nyondo.

He said Bushiri will soon announce his visit to Botswana.

In June, Botswana’s Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) director-general Peter Magosi told The Star newspaper that the security services would present a report on their assessment of the restrictions.

Magosi said, in most cases, there was no evidence of security threats.

“We felt some of the allegations were baseless and we want to ensure government is not condemned internationally for being antagonistic. We believe this was wrong and needs to be corrected and that will be reflected in our quarterly report that will be presented to the president,” Magosi said at the time.

In January 2018, the Botswana Gazette reported that Bushiri’s church, the Pretoria-headquartered ECG was shut down following a run-in with the Khama-led Botswana government.

In May 2017, ahead of his arrival at a conference in Botswana, the Gaborone government instructed Bushiri to obtain a visa before entering the country - although Malawian nationals do not require a visa to enter the diamond-rich southern African nation.

African News Agency (ANA)