Peace and Reconciliation, a communiqué - Sunday 11 July 2004
Led by The Archbishop of Cape Town
In response to a request from the Bishop of Swaziland, the Rt Revd Meshack Mabuza, the Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) - the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane - formed a delegation of Anglican Communion leaders to visit Swaziland from 8-10 July 2004.
According to Bishop Mabuza, Swaziland now stands at a pivotal moment in its history, where the immediate days ahead could mean new life, new hope, and new expressions of common goals for an already united people; a people seeking a brighter future for its children and indeed working for the dream of a generation free from HIV/AIDS.
As the delegation recounted its experience in Swaziland, it was resolved to stand firmly with the Bishop and his people, and assist in any way possible to see the Church’s goals to fruition. Links with the global church, delegation members said, could be an effective way of caring for each other. Swaziland, they continued, did not stand in isolation but was in the prayers and thoughts of fellow Anglicans, especially through the unique links within the CPSA, the Diocese of Washington and the Diocese of Brechin (Scotland).
The Bishop of Swaziland and his Chapter, as well as clergy and lay leaders of the growing diocese, welcomed the delegation, and presented to their guests their shared concerns and enabled the delegation to meet with civic and political leaders, ambassadors and officers of embassies and church leaders. An unprecedented meeting with the Queen Mother of the Kingdom and two significant meetings with the Prime Minister were part of the programme. The Archbishop and the team assured the Prime Minister of their prayerful support as he seeks to serve Swaziland’s people from all walks of life to bring about changes that could benefit all.
The culmination of the visit was marked by a great service – steeped in the finest liturgical traditions of Anglicanism – accompanied by spirited vibrant music and warm expressions of Christian fellowship. An outpouring of love and Christian compassion was experienced by the delegation during its visit and it met with one of the first women ordained in the diocese – the Revd Ooma Marumbela – at her chapel and centre at St Margaret's Church. The delegation was welcomed by the smiles and embraces of a host of AIDS-orphaned children that Mother Ooma has taken into her care. More evidence of the commitment of the young clergy to their people came with helpful presentations on AIDS ministry by the Revd Bheki Magongo and on the current "State of Affairs" by Canon Josiah Mahlalela.
The delegation also heard the cries for help of many from various organisations and from church leaders and heard their fears for the future of Swaziland and for the need for the authorities to heed the warning signs of unrest and concern in a number of areas, including the increase in HIV/AIDS, the need for the rule of law and the need for a strong and inclusive constitution, with special regard for the plight of women, those working for a more democratic government and others whose marginalisation is still evident in society. Although homogenous in language and culture, there have been warning signs of unrest and discontent with the current systems in place, signalling a possible disaster in the near future. Calls for accountability and the urgent need for capacity building to receive aid and support were a common thread during the visit. The staggering rise in HIV/AIDS, noted just a day before in the United Nations report on AIDS, and the fact that seven out of 10 live on less than US$1 per day is shocking.
The call for dialogue, especially in reference to the governance of the country, came from people deemed conservative and progressive alike. It was the hope of the delegation that the Anglican Church can provide a safe haven, literally in its buildings and churches, where dialogue can happen without threat or coercion. An appropriate environment for constitutional development is an utmost concern to avoid future crises, as there appears to be no stated way forward in the eyes of those the delegation encountered. Many were open in their comments on the moral decay prevalent in society and the need to express a passion for the people, with leadership responding from the heart. The constant plea for the serving of the people and the king, in a truthful and creative way, was shared time and again.
The Anglican Church in Swaziland has made a pledge to mobilise its people for effective ministry and evangelisation, while addressing – with the help of the wider Anglican Communion – the growing needs in areas of justice, poverty, hunger and disease.
The delegation concluded, “It is clear that church leaders feel that the welfare of their country is indeed a foremost church concern. The struggle belongs to all. The need for a strong church – one that is confident, not arrogant – is a key factor for the way ahead. We realise these are dangerous times for the human race. Our plea is that Anglicans and people of goodwill worldwide will join in our prayer for peace and reconciliation for Swaziland, a precious gem in the African crown.”
The Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane
Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan, CPSA
The Rt Revd David Beetge
Dean of the Province, CPSA
The Rt Revd Brian Smith
Bishop of Edinburgh, Scottish Episcopal church
(Representing the Archbishop of Canterbury)
The Rt Revd John Chane
Bishop of Washington (USA)
The Rt Revd Dinis Sengulane
Bishop of Lebombo (Mozambique)
The Revd Canon John L. Peterson
Secretary General, The Anglican Communion
Canon J M Rosenthal
Director of Communications, The Anglican Communion