Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why some Immigration systems are Inhumane?

Two Zimbabwean pastors were deported last Friday after they were declared Prohibited Immigrants by the government.

Chris Chissana of Christ Embassy and Edmore Chaka of the Abundant Life Ministries were repatriated together with University of Botswana media studies lecturer Ceasar Zvayi (see separate story on Zvayi). Christ Embassy has been Botswana fastest growing Pentecostal Church. Spotting a maroon suit and s-curl hairstyle, the stylish Chissana looked shocked on Friday as he was being loaded in a police van. His voice was shaking as he said:

"I do not know what is happening. I cannot even explain it myself. What do you do when you are just picked up from your house... it happened so fast, I do not even know what I have done, I had no chance to explain anything," he said just before he boarded the van. Sympathetic members of Chissana's church, who waited for him at the Moonlight Lodge where the state agents had gone to collect Zvayi's belongings, gave him P200 to buy drinks along the way. The Monitor understands that Chissana is married to a Motswana with whom he has children.

Chissana's Christ Embassy Church has become one Gaborone's busiest spot, attracting people from all walks of life. Popular gospel musicians such as Mathews Matsetse, Ernest Seakgosing and to club DJs like DJ Bax have been there. The church attracts a multi-racial crowd, especially Nigerians.

In Gaborone, the Block 8 branch of the church commands a following of over 1,500 people, while the BBS branch has about 600 people. In a less than five years, the church has established more than 15 branches all over the country. Attempts to talk to the church elders in Gaborone after the deportation of their head were unsuccessful on Saturday. First an elder called Mark, said he would grant an interview after 4pm, as the church elders and the pastor's wife, must meet first. "By 4pm, we will have met and discussed the issue, as you know it happened so suddenly, only yesterday (Friday), so people are still in shock. I also don't want to be quoted saying anything about the matter until we have adopted a stand," he said. He never gave an interview and after 4pm, a different pastor called Ade came and promised to grant an interview later. He did not keep the promise despite several attempts to reach him. The Monitor has since established that the multitudes that gathered for Saturday service at the Block 8 branch were not informed about their pastor's deportation. They were encouraged to be strong in faith, according to a devout member who attended the service.

Christ Embassy in Botswana has been on the spotlight for a while. The Director of Civil and National Registration, Mabuse Pule, has in the past made it clear they are investigating the church. He said the church is not registered. Its application to register as a church was turned down in 2005 because it did not meet certain requirements.

Botswana has registered 923 churches since 1973. However the mushrooming of churches, especially by foreign nationals, has been a cause for concern for politicians.

Christ Embassy was started by controversial Nigerian preacher and healer Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. The pastor has been accused by a member of the church in South Africa of staging miracle-healing sessions.

South African newspaper, Sowetan has reported that he has been hiring people to pretend to be sick and disabled. The pretenders are then 'healed' during his television shows and public prayer meetings.

Meanwhile, on the day of the deportation, the thin looking Chaka of the Abundant Life Ministries wore a red shirt. He has been in the news for sometime, especially after he told his followers taking ARV drugs to discontinue and surrender them to him.

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