AMID reports of bankruptcy facing its eKuphakameni faction, the Nazareth Baptist Church (also known as the Shembe Church) this week announced it is entering into several business ventures to “help our members on economic development and on their social transformation of our members and South Africa”.
In an interview with The Witness eKuphakameni general-secretary Edward Velemafini Ximba said eKuphakameni leader inkosi Vukile Shembe has created an investment company called Sinosizo Investments, which is 51% owned by the Nazareth Baptist Church Trust, with the balance of the shares reserved for management and potential investors.
Ximba said Sinosizo Investments is focusing on: telecommunication with a core focus on cellular and broadband; financial services with a core focus on banking and life insurance; and media with a core focus on mobile advertising, mobile billboards and street pole advertising.
The company also intends getting involved in property and construction as well as the mining sector, Ximba said.
In the last few weeks the media have been inundated with reports that eKuphakameni faction was struggling to meets its financial obligations and that it owed Mvimbeni Security R28 000. The company provided security services to Shembe during the church’s annual pilgrimage to the holy mountain of Nhlangakazi in January.
Ximba said the failure to honour some of the debts was due to his hospitalisation earlier this year “and there was no one with the know-how to efficiently handle our affairs”.
Outlining the objectives behind the establishment of the business ventures, Ximba said: “In line with the values of the prophet (Isaiah Shembe, the founder of the church), we intend working with our members to alleviate poverty.
“We don’t see our poverty-stricken church members as victims or as burdens, but we recognise them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers.
“Within its first six months of existence, Sinosizo Investment has made its first acquisition in the telecommunication sector by obtaining a 49% share in Pretty Mobile Pty Ltd, a company that specialises in cellular communication, provision of broadband (Internet) services and mobile advertising.
“Within the financial services area, we are proud to announce that we are at in advanced negotiations with one of the big four banks to help us launch our community bank.
“We have also appointed Metropolitan Life as an underwriter for AmaNazaretha Burial Scheme (Umasingcwabisane) that we are launching in mid-November,” Ximba said.
No deals have been concluded with regard to property and construction, he added, but eKuphakameni is currently involved in negotiations with companies that are looking at doing broad-based-black economic empowerment (BBBEE) transactions.