Fugitive Bushiri’s welcoming video good reason for stop to foreign aid

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By Nomazulu Thata

Watching the video of the so-called prophet Bushiri arriving in his home country Malawi sent tongues wagging to many who know that Bushiri is a conman.

Is this video, recent one or old, is neither here nor there. Bushiri’s recent escape from South Africa to Malawi, aided apparently by South African officials who may have been beneficiaries of his handouts, leaves the USA-Hollywood movie script writers green with envy.

There has never been an open deceit of this kind and magnitude in southern Africa. Here is a criminal to be convicted of serious crime relating to money laundering, is bundled up in a Presidential aircraft headed for safety in his homeland.

Bushiri and his wife are safe from justice, having shown the South African Justice system a middle-finger. This proves he can play with both God and mankind to his advantage and win.

Is the newly elected President of Malawi so criminal to risk his international reputation that much? Why did South Africans let Bushiri leave the country with a presidential aircraft? What are they trying to hide from their Justice system? Do they realise the damage of undermining the Judiciary system of South Africa that carried some semblance of respect globally?

What was the fracas about immediately after they realised that the young prophet had skipped the country, thereby flouting his bail conditions? When all that was planned, to assist Bushiri to leave, where was the police,  the “Scorpions or DSO”, the SASS, the NIA, the immigration officials, all of them whose responsibility is to keep law and order in South Africa? Who is going to trust the South African government after this Bushiri saga that smells of corruption at government and ANC party of South Africa?

We must remember that South Africa was the last hope in Africa whose Justice System was trusted and respected at home, in Africa and internationally. Is it not an embarrassment to SA to the deal with a criminal the way they did in full glare of international diplomats present in the country?

What message are they sending to lesser mortals in the SADC and beyond about corruption in their back yards? Painfully, is the realisation other SADC countries have now been demonstrated by the big brother SA; this is how we protect criminals connected to the echelons of power.

South Africa can never claim a moral higher ground when it comes to issues of corruption and human rights abuses evidenced by the previous efforts made by the ANC to bring Zimbabwe to order after serious human rights abuses on its citizens ahead of July 31 planned demonstrations that saw Hopewell Chinono and Jacob Ngarivhume incarcerated at Chikurubi for more than a month.

Let me go back to Malawi where the video was caught. Comments below were conflicting. It was not possible to know when the celebration of the arrival of “Prophet” was shot, hence there was obvious absence of masks wearing as per Covid-19 regulations due to the global pandemic.

This video may not have been taken at the arrival of President Lazarus Chakwera from his state visit to SA. To me, it is besides the issue when this video was shot. Bushiri’s arrival in Malawi’s capital city was celebrated in pomp and style. He was driven in a Rolls Royce wagon, both sides of which were protected by security details.

Several cars ahead and at the rear made a smart colon we all know, resembling the arrival of a head of state. But Bushiri is a prophet,” supposed to be a man of god? Has religion been used to mask political and other motives? Prophet Bushiri has become an inanimate object worshipped for its assumed magical powers.

Talking about the gullible population who lined across the roadside to witness something out of the ordinary, unimaginable by common sense. It makes sense why African governments have less budgets on education: this is to keep the African population gullible and uncritical, socially, politically, and otherwise. Of what benefit is it to wait along the roadside to see such a pompous event that is non-productive to one’s own personal day-t-day life struggles? I am critiquing the fetish worshippers of Bushiri’s congregation who genuinely believe that Bushiri is inhabited by higher and holier spirits, hence mesmerized by his charismatic power of self- importance.

How do Africans easily fall into fanaticism: is there any tradition inherent in us that makes us get taken over, begin suddenly and dramatic cling to false prophesies and charlatans? In a continent full of social, political, and economic challenges “the biblical paradox of wheat and weeds growing together is real.” Many of these prophets are taking advantage of non-critical and non-investigative thinking of the general population due to lack of adequate education. Inherently religious even before Christianity came to Africa, the arrival of Christianity to the continent transformed and manifested in us what was already religious. African scholars repeatedly “argue that African cosmology does not separate the spiritual from non-spiritual; therefore, the economic, medical, and cultural spheres of reality are open to multiple interpretations.”

Let us go back to South Africa. The false prophet Bushiri relocated from his home base to South Africa because he saw an economic niche he could tape on and immerse himself with riches. When it comes to Christian faith and religious belifs, the South African communities react the same, embrace Christianity the same way as in Malawi. Because the populations of gullible and unsuspecting are more in South Africa than a small poor cousin Malawi, Bushiri made fortunes in SA. It was possible to corrupt officials to get permanent residence permits, he even was able to corrupt the party and government of South Africa. Hence, he walked out of “behind the curtains negotiated” prison bail conditions, a scene that the Hollywood stars in California will find it difficult to replicate it.

Mzansi 24 news media reported “Bushiri and his wife were fetched from their home in Centurion in a Malawian embassy vehicle ahead of a scheduled 6 pm flight as Chakwera wrapped up his meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa. They were driven to Air Force Base Waterkloof as part of an elaborate plot that involved senior Malawian and South African politicians and government officials and the alleged exchange of money.” All the fracas about repatriation of Bushiri couple back to South Africa to face charges of money laundering was a cover, to give face to the world, appear as if they are a government with values and strong Judiciary System!

In retrospect, South Africa is without doubt, a corrupt country. This Bushiri saga will have long term repercussions on the party ANC and government run by incumbent Ramaphosa. South Africa should know that the world is watching them. Be it the government of Zuma and the current Ramaphosa’s government is immersed in corruption deals that go in millions and billions. The president Ramaphosa has got himself involved in cases of rape and fraud scandals involving fake pastors, seeking stringent reviews of cases of fake prophets. These sad victimization on citizens are compelling for the government of SA to make Bushiri face the music as precedence to numerous other false prophets that swindle tithes from most marginalized, vulnerable poor communities and in return are promised prosperity and good health.

The international money lenders pour money on some African governments to waste it, Malawi is a classic example. There is conceptual evidence and literature that suggest that foreign aid is ineffective in Africa. According to Mohamed Sraieb’s article in 2016, developing countries received a staggering 491 billion USD aid. He says, “this represents almost the average GDP of all 34 low-income countries. (USD 527 billion) for 2012, and more than 545 times the GDP of say, Gambia (USD 914 million) or Guinea-Bissau (USD 822 million) for the same year.” Despite significant flows the empirical literature suggests that AID was ineffective due to several reasons and some of which being bad governance and massive and unfettered corruption in government institutions.

That development AID has failed Africa, is empirically established by several scholars. Mohamed Sraieb asks pertinent questions; the motive behind the donor institutions to continue to give AID to developing countries recognizing that it is not fulfilling the purpose it is intended. Why would international donors’ agencies continue to give AID in the presence of corruption, limited absorption capacity and absence of democratic governance in recipient countries. What is the rational, what is the motivation behind the donor agencies to continue giving AID? That is Mohamed Sraieb’s bone of contention.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa.  It has external debt stock that comprises K1,7 trillion and K1,97 trillion domestic debt. Malawi does not qualify to be recipient of foreign AID because it does not fulfil merit-based variables such as curbing corruption in government institutions, democracy, and human rights. After this shocking and tasteless incidence between South Africa and Malawi regarding the prophet Bushiri and his wife, donor agencies should review new set of conditions of AID to African countries.