Bushiri has applied to use the 41,000-seater stadium to host his glitzy, annual crossover service on December 31. The gatherings, previously held at the 90,000-seater FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, attract followers from across South Africa, the African continent and from different parts of the world.
The Bingu National Stadium management, in a written response widely circulated on social media, told Bushiri’s spokesperson that the stadium would no longer host the much-publicised event as it may attract large crowds in breach of Covid-19 preventative measures.
The stadium management also said the facility will also be undergoing maintenance in preparation for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) inspection, which will happen in early January.
“At the time of CAF inspection, management may not have enough time to restore the stadium to its normal status due to anticipated damages and losses during your function,” said the stadium management in a letter signed by acting stadium manager A. Mwaungulu.
“It takes a long time for such damages or losses to be repaired or recovered respectively as seen from past experiences.”
On Sunday, Bushiri’s spokesperson, Ephraim Nyondo told African News Agency that after the sudden cancellation, the ECG leadership was now in “serious discussions”, mapping a way forward on the hosting of the event.
“We may not have known what led to the u-turn, but as a compliant church led by Prophet Shepherd Bushiri who believes in complying, we can only confirm the cancellation of the booking. Our leaders are currently in talks trying to find a way forward,” said Nyondo.
He confirmed that international visitors, including from South Africa where Bushiri commands considerable following, were expected to attend the December 31 event.
“Our church operates in 47 countries across all the six continents. In all the previous crossovers, members from all these countries always turned up. We are also expecting members from these countries to turn up, not just South Africa,” said Nyondo.
Regarding the widespread media reports that the ECG church was charging members of the public to meet Bushiri, Nyondo said the reports were untrue.
“The word of God at ECG was free, is free and will always be free. You are free to visit our church and find out for yourself,” he insisted.
The South African government has made a formal request to the government of Malawi for the extradition of Bushiri and his wife, Mary. The couple fled South Africa after being released on bail early last month.
The self-proclaimed prophet and prophetess are facing charges of theft, money laundering and fraud relating to an investment scheme.
Different warrants of arrest have been issued by South African courts.