SWAZILAND: The Church’s 7 steps ‘to solve the crisis’

Keywords : Eswatini Democracy Human and trade union rights Eswatini

SCCL Secretary Sydney Nyembe explains some contents of the Kairos Document.

1. Unity amongst church groups.
The SCCL says it has noted with concern the disunity that exists amongst Christian organisations in Swaziland.

They say such makes the Church weak and its messages not to be taken seriously on critical political matters in the country.

“The Swaziland Conference of Churches (SCC), Council of Swaziland Churches (CSC) and the League of African Churches cannot claim to be advancing the interests of the church while they are not united. In pursuing the same agenda in the name of God, there is need for a national reconciliation and healing process. We call for the Church to unite in diversity and to fight a just course,” says the SCCL.

2. Churches should take up politics. 
The church leaders want all churches and their members to stop avoiding and dodging political questions affecting the lives of Christians in Swaziland.
“The church should call for the repeal of the 1973 Proclamation decree, as this is not in line with the spirit of the country’s constitution. It also calls for the unbanning of all political parties, return of the exiled, repealing the Terrorism Act of 2008, bringing to an end the extra judicial killings, access to land and adherence to the laws of the land.”

3. Holding special campaigns.

The SCCL hopes to go around the country to engage Church members and sensitise them about the Kairos Document.

“The church must have some form of consultation, coordination and cooperation when tackling matters of social concern that have a bearing on the country’s political transformation.

As people who work on the ground we owe it to our Christian witness to keep our mission informed and relevant. The church must desist from supporting national programmes that have a tendency of undermining the wishes of the greater civil society,” says the church leaders.

They add that now is an opportune time for a national referendum on the role of the church on matters of politics and social concern to be held.

4. Take the lead in solving problems.

Rather than continuing to criticise government on the country’s state of the economy, church leaders feel the church should take the responsibility of coming up with innovative ways to create jobs and wealth.

“Christian business people must join forces with the church to offer solutions in matters of job-creation and wealth. It took Joseph, a Jew in Egypt, to be involved with economics and food preservation to save nations,” says the SCCL.

5. Holding the Bible supreme.

The SCCL say it affirms that the Bible should remain relevant and an authority in influencing Christian beliefs and actions in Swaziland.
“It is the Word of God and the Church must base its moral guidance on what the Bible teaches not mere humanistic philosophies. Interpreting the Bible and coming out with a doctrinal stand requires skills of contextualising theology. While believers are encouraged to read the Bible as the word of God and meditate on what it says to enrich their Christian vocation, the Church still has an obligation to engage its followers on how to theologically interpret the Bible,” the SCCL says.

6. National Convention to decide SD’s future.

An all-inclusive national convention to be known as the Convention for Democracy for Swaziland (CODESWA) is what church leaders are calling for.
They say it should involve all stakeholders of the Swazi civil society.

“The traditional structures, political formations, religious groups and other key stakeholders like political formations, business sector and labour movements must together sit down and discuss the issues bordering on the constitution and governance,” the SCCL says.

7. Negotiated settlement.

The SCCL says the Church, as a matter of urgency, has to engage other faith formations currently operating in Swaziland in seeking for a ‘negotiated political settlement to the fiscal crisis’. 

“The Church must understand that it does not have monopoly on religious matters in the land, as this country has embraced the principles of freedom of religions. It is therefore crucial that these faith formations are engaged, respected and consulted when discussing issues that have a bearing on people’s religious life and conduct. The religious intolerance mentality is no longer acceptable in this time and age of human rights and religious pluralism,” the church leaders say.
Constitution needs to be revisited – SCCL
The country’s church leaders are calling on government to revisit the constitutional process and ensure that political formations, civil society, chiefs and faith-based organisations are part of the review mechanism.

They say it is essential that the process is inclusive of all stakeholders for the sake of ownership, growth, economic stability and good governance.

The leaders argue that the present constitution excluded group interest in favour of individual submissions thus a lot of voices were not listened to, something they say left a lot of unsatisfied Swazis who felt the process should be revisited.

They say political parties should be involved instead of the continued fear of involving them as has been the case since the 1970s when the 1973 King’s decree banning political formations was put in place.

“There is need to allay such unfounded fears, because as long as you have people sidelined in any national process you will still be harbouring fears yet involving all people will add value and demystify such sentiments. At the end of the day Swazis must contribute to such national initiatives irrespective of their political affiliations,” say the church leaders.
In order to bring the contents of the Kairos Document to governments’ attention, the Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders plans to use the ministry of home affairs as the entry point.
“The minister of home affairs is our route through whom government will be informed of the contents of the Swazi Kairos Document,” said Reverend Solomon Nxumalo.

The incumbent minister of this portfolio is Princess Tsandzile.

Nxumalo said there was no specific timeline by which they expect to have achieved what is laid out in the Kairos.
“We believe this is a process not an event and so we will be having regional dialogues and contextualisation of the Bible on different situations,” he said.

By Welcome Dlamini

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