Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader Shepherd Bushiri. PHOTO: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - The SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) said it met Ndebele King Makhosonke Mabhena II over the alleged donation of land to leader of the Enlightenment Christian Gathering (ECG) church, Shepherd Bushiri.

The move attracted harsh opposition, particularly by Ndebele activists in South Africa.

Abram Mashishi, Sanco regional chairperson in Tshwane, said at the meeting, the Ndebele traditional leadership refuted the alleged donation of land which had caused the furore on social media platforms after Bushiri’s ECG News Online made the announcement in April.

“The meeting to clarify this supposed stance by the royal house was called after outrage was sparked through different media platforms.

“Because Sanco is a people-centred organisation, we had to get clarity.

“His majesty (King Makhosonke) clarified categorically that there is no land that had been donated to the church or to its head,” said Mashishi.

In April, a post on Bushiri’s official ECG News Online announced: “Breaking News - King of AmaNdebele people in South Africa, King Makhosonke II, embraces prophet Bushiri’s ministry work, donates land to the church.

“The king’s delegate, Prince Thomas, who is second in command, made the revelation on Sunday during the live service at Pretoria showgrounds.”

Pictures of the Ndebele delegation with Bushiri on stage were also widely shared on the ECG platform, attracting thousands of positive and negative reactions on Facebook. The story of the land donation was also reported by some media houses. In a video posted on YouTube, on the day Bushiri had introduced Prince Thomas Mabhena as “the second in command” Bushiri said the delegation had “wonderful good news they have brought for us”. Addressing the ECG church, Mabhena told the ECG congregation he was sent by King Makhosonke II.

“The king has given us two messages. The first is that we embrace the prophet as a son of the kingdom.

“Not only him but by also the prophet’s wife. From today, he will now be called Prince Prophet Bushiri.

“The wife will now be called Princess Prophet Bushiri.

“King Makhosonke II has realised that the prophet is encountering a lot of problems and issues. We know that our God fights for us,” Mabhena announced to thousands of jubilant ECG members in April. “The king knows the problem here since 2015 Prophet Bushiri has been renting this place (the Pretoria Events Centre). Some congregants are getting burnt by the sun outside. When it rains, it’s a big problem. Now, in light of these challenges these issues have really touched the king.

“Now, the king has said he wants to use King Solomon’s wisdom. King Makhosonke wants to give the Prince Prophet land. That land is here in Gauteng. The place is Wallmannsthal here in Tshwane. It’s about 15km to 20km from here. The king loves the work that Prince Prophet Bushiri does, and he will be meeting the prophet soon to finalise everything.”

Approached for clarity on the matter, spokesperson for the Ndebele King, Mbulawa Mabhena referred to a statement issued by the royal house in April - just days after the Ndebele delegation’s visit to the ECG in Pretoria.

The statement reads: “His Majesty King Makhosonke II of the amaNdebele nation as a whole wishes to assure the amaNdebele nation there is no land of amaNdebele that has been or will be given to Prophet Bushiri neither now or in the future.

“The king sincerely apologises about this severely disruptive occurrence that has occurred within the nation of ama- Ndebele as a whole.”

Mabhena added yesterday: “The whole noise was based on lies.

“We do not have land. People do represent the king but (do) not mean that literally they met the king and got the message, ie in the graveyard people will stand up and thank the people on behalf of the king”.

Outspoken Ndebele cultural activist Thando Mahlangu said the Ndebele royal household was now backtracking on its land pledge to Bushiri.

“The truth is Prince Thomas Mabena did give the land to Bushiri’s church, not knowing that we as AmaNdebele will stand against this.

“They never thought this will go viral. They never saw this coming. Now they have tried to change the whole thing claiming that King Makhosonke, didn’t know about this whole thing because we are standing against this,” said Mahlangu. Bushiri’s spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo said the land donation announcement was made publicly by the Ndebele delegation - without any solicitation from the ECG or Bushiri.

“The ECG church has never made any announcement of that effect. It’s the King of Ndebele, through a delegation led by Prince Thomas, that made the announcement to the ECG congregation. As a church, we always enjoy a cordial relationship with the kingdoms not just in South Africa but in over 27 countries across the world where we have over 178 church branches,” said Nyondo. - African News Agency (ANA)

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