Church leaders in the Fellowship Christian Council in the Southern Region have joined hands in prayer for the church and people of Eswatini. This follows a civil unrest in the country where people are being brutalised by members of the security sector, shops being vandalised and burnt.
In an interview with the Christian Voice, Reverend Kenneth Mtata the secretary general for Zimbabwe Council of Churches said the Fellowship Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA) which us headed by ZCC has done an assessment of the situation in Eswatini and will be writing to the Southern Africa Development Committee.
“We have received news of very violent clashes between protesters and armed security members. What we have decided to do through the instructions of the churches in Eswatini is to write to the SADC asking them to oversee a comprehensive process of dialogue that involves all the key stakeholders, not just the government,” he said.
Rev Mtata also mentioned that they were also calling on the international community to support the churches in initiating a national dialogue which could be one of the ways of stopping the unrest in Eswatini.
“We call on the SADC body to initiate a national dialogue for an immediate stop to the violence. We are also asking that the international community must support the process of this national dialogue process,” he said.
He mentioned that they were working with churches in Eswatini to verify some of the details such as the number of people who have been affected by these clashes or killed.
“We still need to verify the number of people who have been killed. The state says its one person, but other sources say its 60 people or more. Member churches in Eswatini are doing an analysis on it because they are the ones who are on the ground and can do the right assessment,” he said.
A prayer has been organised by FOCCISA in solidarity with the people of Eswatini which is meant to give them hope as well as show the intensity of their situation to other communities outside the African continent.
“An ecumenical prayer service in solidarity with the people of Eswatini has been organised by FOCCISA and this is meant to give support to the churches and the people at Eswatini. The prayer is also meant to highlight the situation to many stakeholders,” said Rev Mtata.
Commenting on the situation at Eswatini, the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) board chairman, Bishop Obert Shatai said the killing of defenceless people was inhuman. Bishop Shatai said it was important for the church to pray for God’s intervention and sanity prevails in Eswatini.
“We pray and hope for God’s intervention and for peace to prevail in Eswatini. We call upon all the responsible bodies such as the SADC to initiate peace talks. It is very unfortunate that we are killing each other instead of resolving conflicts in an amicable way. Our leaders need to appreciate the importance of dialogue in solving conflicts instead of resorting to violence,” he said.
Pastor Kilton Moyo said the situation at Eswatini was very unfortunate, but it was bound to happen as the people Eswatini couldn't have put up with monarchy forever. He said the ongoing unrest was a revelation of what has been hidden inside the monarchy.
“ I think it is lack of wisdom and the current understanding of the global trends in terms of the monarchy itself for having continued to suppress democratic opinions and principles in that country so far. The monarchy has been manipulative, oppressive, and abusive of women and children in the name of culture and tradition,” said Pastor Moyo.
Pastor Moyo urged SADC to act extremely fast in responding to the Eswatini situation before it spreads to other countries in the region. He went on to mention that most unresolved political crisis and questions within the SADC countries were issues that needed urgent attention.
“The region is slowly falling into turmoil, slowly flowing into the hands of the enemy. I think and believe the unresolved political crisis and questions in SADC countries are a door for the enemy to come in and destabilise our region. African governments are giving the enemy that opportunity to infiltrate, look at what is currently happening in South Africa it could also lead to unrest,” he said.
He identified the church as a major stakeholder in bringing back order and sanity in Eswatini. Pastor Moyo said the religious sector can work together to influence and push the church leadership to bring about change.
“The church has authority, and it can do it if they want to. They can go to Eswatini and engage the monarchy and the government to bring back order and sanity. For the church to do so they also must stop thinking politically but spiritually. The church can speed up the engagement and put pressure on the government to normalise the situation,” he said.
Writing on his Facebook page, Habbakuk Trust director, Dumisani Nkomo said there was need for a regional intervention and a roadmap for democratic reforms. He also mentioned that a settlement would be the best route to take in normalising the situation.