Reports that Malawi’s Foreign Affairs minister Eisenhower Mkaka met controversial millionaire preacher Shepherd Bushiri in South Africa hours before he fled to his native Malawi, is lending credence to the narrative that the Bushiri’s escape was aided by the government of Malawi top brass.
There had been allegations that Bushiri fled on Malawi’s presidential jet with President Lazarus Chakwera – something that has been denied by Chakwera’s office.
Chakwera was on a two-day official visit to South Africa and returned late on Friday as Bushiri announced his Malawi presence on Saturday morning.
Apparently, Mkaka met Bushiri in Pretoria hours before he skipped bail in a case of alleged fraud and money laundering.
Mkaka was only seen posting photos on Facebook of meeting Bushiri’s aide, Kelvin Sulugwe in company of President Chakwera’s executive assistant and communication director Sean Kampondeni in Pretoria.
According to BBC’s Nomsa Maseko, Mkaka reportedly received a phone call from a “senior South African official” who wanted to know how Bushiri ended up to Malawi.
Mkaka answered: “I don’t know. […] What Bushiri did was done in his personal capacity and received no help via official channels”.
He told Maseko that it is the duty of the government to protect all Malawians but added that President Chakwera is a staunch advocate of the rule of law and that all diplomatic channels will remain open.
A social media commentator Joshua Chisa Mbele posting on Facebook that Mkaka met Bushiri on Tuesday.
Mbele argued that Mkaka, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general, has embarrassed President Chakwera as the issue could cause a diplomatic spat between Malawi and South Africa – as questions are being asked about how Mr Bushiri and his wife managed to leave.
“I’m here scratching my skull, what the hell Hon. Mkaka was doing with Bushiri or agreeing to meet him. What business was being discussed. If true, I ask the President to discipline Hon. Mkaka. It seems the Hon. Minister doesn’t understand powers and sensitivities surrounding the Foreign Affairs Ministry,” wrote Mbele, a known politician-cum-entrepreneur who has been a resident of South Africa.
He also noted that the twee of South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on allegations that Bushiri fled with the help of President Chakwera is “extremely damaging.”
South African media says the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa is ‘extremely angry’ over Malawian preacher, Shepherd Bushiri’s escape from the Rainbow nation on Wednesday.
Analysts say the decision by Bushiri to run away from prosecution in South Africa in what has been dubbed as the ‘miracle escape’ in social media platforms, might cause a diplomatic storm between South Africa and Malawi.
The Sunday Times newspaper of South Africa says the escape has left Ramaphosa extremely angry and the law enforcement agencies red-faced.
South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said the government would not hesitate to move to extradite fugitives.
Other South Africa newspapers continue to speculate that Chakwera’s presidential jet, which left South Africa on Friday mid night, was linked to the escape but evidence shows that Bushiri arrived in the country earlier before Chakwera’s return on Friday night.
President Chakwera’s visit to South Africa last week has been overshadowed by the escape of Bushiri from the Rainbow nation.
Bushiri, who is dominating news on all major mainstream media including the social media platforms, said there had been attempts on his life and he accused the South African authorities of not offering protection.
The leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church described his decision to skip bail as “a tactical withdrawal meant to preserve lives” while speaking in a live feed on Facebook Saturday.
An observer told Nyasa Times that Bushiri’s escape is a “complete embarrassment” and yet another sign of weak African institutions.
The observer said this would never happen in the West such as Heathrow Airport in London because the institutions there work.
“But the hero worshipping of the rich and famous that goes on in Africa has made this possible.”
The first photo of prophet Bushiri in Lilongwe surfaced on Twitter and was shared by former Malawi Attorney General Ralph Kasambara.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :