The Cry of Eswatini
Global Ministries shares two articles responding to the unrest and violence currently happening in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). Partners are responding and are in regular contact with Africa Area Executive, Rev. Marco Cable. Partners in Eswatini are the Council of Swaziland Churches and the Kukhany’Okusha Zion Church.
From the Council of Swaziland Churches:
A PLEA TO RESPECT BEREAVED FAMILIES AS THEY BURY THEIR LOVED ONES
It is with deep sadness that we as the church have to write this message of condolence to all the families who have lost their loved ones during the unrest we have seen in the past weeks. Never in the life of the church in Eswatini have we thought that we would experience such in Eswatini. What has been unfolding in this country in the past weeks needs the attention and concern of everyone. The country needs to do introspection on where we are coming from, where we are, and where we want to go from here. We hope that exercise will help prevent what happened.
The church has noted with shock the number of people who are said to have passed on due to the serious commotion that has been going on in the country. This worries the church as the scriptures say that only God the Creator has the power to take a person’s life. What we have witnessed, though, is in direct contrast with the scripture. Hence, we appeal for a serious introspection of all parties involved to prevent a repeat of such calamity.
The Council of Swaziland Churches is aware that burials of those who have passed on are ongoing. The church humbly appeals to all involved, including the government and its agencies, to exercise some restraint and allow families to the bury their deceased family members with the respect and the dignity they deserve. It is known that when a person passes on under such circumstances, tempers usually flare and people get emotional. The church, however, pleads with the affected families and friends to be calm. We also appeal to other organizations and role players to also respect the families and let them bury their loved ones in peace.
The CSC notes the need for memorial services and national prayers for the healing of our country. However, due to the prevailing circumstances we plead with families and church leaders to please conduct prayers in all churches this weekend. We request that we pray for 1) the bereaved families as they lay their departed to rest, 2) those who were injured and some still in hospitals, 3) those who are in prison, 4) those who whereabouts are still not known as families are still trying to locate them, 5) we also want to pray for all those whose properties were destroyed. We pray that the families and friends find comfort in the words of Hebrew 13:6, “The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me.”
We pray for wisdom from the God Almighty that as the nation engages in the journey of healing from the happenings of the past weeks, God may direct all our thoughts. The church maintains that nothing will beat dialogue among people. Let people come together to discuss their differences in a respectful manner. Let all the parties express their views freely and be respected, as tolerance and acceptance will help the country going forward. The respect for human rights will prevent the bloodshed and destruction of property we have just witnessed.
From the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA):
The Cry of Eswatini: Christian Councils of Southern Africa urge for inclusive National Dialogue in the Kingdom of Eswatini
- The General Secretaries of Christian Councils in Southern Africa are issuing this statement under the auspices of their regional organization, the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA) in response to the disturbing reports on the brutal attacks on the civilian population by the government security forces as well as the destruction of property by some protestors in eSwatini.
- The Christian Councils of Southern Africa, on behalf of the churches and congregations of member churches, extend heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives during these tragic experiences.
- Reports of people being shot in cold blood invoke the words of the prophet Isaiah who speaks on God’s behalf that, God “saw that there was no one and was shocked because there was no one to intervene.” (Isaiah 59:16a). The situation puts great burden on all of us as
sisters and brothers of the SADC region, as if God was asking Cain when he killed his brother Abel in cold blood, “where is your brother?”
- As FOCCISA, we are moved by Christ’s compassion to act in solidarity with the people of eSwatini who have been calling for the democratization of their society for a very long time.
- Having studied the unfolding situation in eSwatini, the FOCCISA is calling:
a. For the immediate cessation of all forms of state sponsored violence against the citizens. We have received no less than 44 names of people known to have died, allegedly at the hands of the security forces.
b. On the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to urge the Government of eSwatini to withdraw the military back to barracks and let police handle policing. Soldiers are essentially trained to kill and hence cannot manage public protests appropriately when and if they occur.
c. The establishment of a National Dialogue process, not only to address the immediate issues but also to chart a way forward towards the establishment of a constitutional democracy. We trust that through such a process, the voices of ordinary people will be heard – those who have been submitting petitions to Government, leading up to the current impasse. Only a genuine National Dialogue that ventilates all opinions for all options is most likely to yield a lasting solution of peace with justice.
d. For the suspension of all public protests to give space for the creation of the dialogue process.
- The FOCCISA welcomes the statement by President Masisi of Botswana, the Chair of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security, announcing that the SADC mission will be returning to the country with urgency, to hold broad inclusive consultations, to gain a deeper appreciation of the gravity and scope of the developments in eSwatini.
- The SADC organ for Politics, Defense and Security has the mandate of the SADC with objectives that include among other things, to “protect the people and safeguard the development of the Region against instability arising from the breakdown of law and order, intra-state, inter-state conflict and aggression.” Currently the people are not protected, and development is deeply compromised due to this instability. The other objective is to “prevent, contain and resolve inter-and intra-state conflict by peaceful means.” Currently conflict is being resolved through violent means. The organ also aims at observing and encouraging “state Parties to implement, United Nations, African Union and other international conventions and treaties…” Many international conventions and treaties are being abused in eSwatini as military arms are allegedly being used against defenseless citizens.
- The FOCCISA is calling for the All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the World Council of Churches (WCC), and all people of faith worldwide to join us in prayers for the churches and the people of eSwatini in this time of difficulties. An Ecumenical Prayer of solidarity with the churches and people of eSwatini was conducted on the Zoom platform on July 8 at 7:30 pm featuring church leaders from the diversity of the countries represented in FOCCISA. It also featured the participation of the World Council of Churches and the All-Africa Conference of Churches, to pray for God’s grace to console the bereaved, comfort the injured, and accompany the nation towards healing and a lasting solution of justice and peace.