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Church leaders want regime change

Today the Sunday Observer exclusively reveals well-oiled plans by the kingdom’s church leaders to force regime change in Swaziland – an undertaking that is unprecedented in as far as the Christian faith is concerned.
For the first time in recent history, the local Christian fraternity has thrown itself into the deep end of Swaziland’s political fray by pushing for an end to the prevailing Tinkhundla system of governance.
The Church claims that the country is in a ‘crisis situation’ not only politically, but also socially as well as economically and they apportion the blame solely on the system of governance.
It says time has come for implementation of ‘biblical and theological solutions’ to the ‘crisis situation’ they say is facing the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Since 2011, the church leaders have been holding meetings to map out their modus operandi and the plans gained momentum on Wednesday when members of the clergy calling themselves the Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders (SCCL) gathered at Global Village in Manzini to launch the ‘Swaziland Kairos Document’ – an explosive textual record in which they outline a number of issues they want addressed.
The origins of a ‘Kairos’ can be traced to neighbouring South Africa where, in 1985, church leaders drafted a ‘Kairos Document’ (which became known as the ‘KD’) through which they challenged the apartheid regime.
Saying the ‘moment of truth has arrived’, the SA group of theologians said their country was in a crisis situation that needed the Church to bring to an end the apartheid regime.   
Similarly, the local church leaders are also saying the ‘moment of truth’ has come for Christians in Swaziland to challenge the Kingdom’s authorities to heed calls for, amongst other things, multi-party democracy, reviewing the King’s powers and ensuring improved labour relations – especially the registration and recognition of Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).
While drafters of the S.A Kairos Document remain unknown to this day, save for speculation on their identities, it is known that those in Swaziland are led by Reverend Solomon Nxumalo who is Chairperson of the SCCL.
Others in the leadership are Reverend Wilson Kunene (Vice Chairperson), Mafika Shabangu (National Director), Sydney Nyembe (Secretary), Reverend Themba Mahlalela (Assistant Secretary), Zanele Dlamini (Treasurer), Pastor Precious Ndwandwe (Gender Officer), Reverend Canaan Mathabela (member) and Reverend Bheki Dlamini (member).
According to Nxumalo, all church bodies including the League of African Churches, Swaziland Conference of Churches and Council of Swaziland Churches as well as non-affiliates are represented in the SCCL.
He said all these bodies, through their representatives, contributed to the drafting of the ‘Kairos document’.
“Before even continuing with the final draft, there was a validation exercise in December 2014 where all came and approved with comments,” the chairperson said.   The local Church leaders say their ‘Kairos Document’ should not be viewed as a ‘destabilising agent’ but as a ray and beacon of hope and a peace broker in the kingdom.
The leaders state that the Church will endeavour to respect and support government; pay taxes due to government; and pray for government as instructed by the Holy Book.
“However, the Church submits that if the government is unjust it will choose to obey God rather than man,” they say while quoting from the book of Acts chapter 5 verse 29.
Calling the Church the ‘voice of the voiceless’, the leaders urge ‘those in leadership of this great country to listen to the voice of reason’ by implementing what is contained in the document.
The Christians, as outlined in the Kairos, are questioning the existence of the country’s Tinkhundla system of governance, which they say should be done away with in favour of multi-party democracy.
“It should be categorically clear that the Swazi populace has since been exposed to modern trends of democratic systems, and to hold them captive and locked up in an old order that still wants to manipulate and control them is unfortunate and unjustified,” say the church leaders.
The church leaders also want to challenge the King’s powers.
“The fact that Swazi customary laws put the King as its absolute leader and authority on one hand, yet equally the Western system law still views the very same person as the final authority on the other. We never know when he pronounces or gives instructions, on what capacity and office is he giving that instruction.”  
Asked whether this was not a direct challenge to His Majesty King Mswati III’s rule, Nxumalo argued: “We are not challenging His Majesty but just telling the reality. Just like we say (that) God is all powerful.”
The church leaders say the conclusion they have since arrived at as Christians is that ‘political leadership in Swaziland is bankrupt’ because there is no political freedom thus they want the tinkhundla system replaced by multi-party democracy so as to guarantee opposition and political vibrancy.
“The Church calls and earnestly pleads that government invites all political stakeholders to a roundtable (indaba) to discuss political issues and desired future.
It is an opportune time for the country to allow freedom of expression and assembly so that we all enjoy peace and stability in our time,” adds the church leaders in the Kairos Document.
It is stated that the intention of the Kairos Document is to mobilise all Christians in Swaziland after it was realised that they were reluctant ‘to peacefully challenge the status quo’.
“This moment presents us as Servants of Jesus Christ with a great challenge to seek God and His Word on how best we can, on behalf of the Church, help usher a Christian response to such prevailing crisis that if allowed to continue, can lead to further anarchy and confusion,” further states the document. Apparently, moves to craft the document were first orchestrated in 2011 when the church leaders met at the George Hotel in Manzini where they reflected and considered ‘deeply’ on the kingdom’s political situation. It is reported in the Kairos that the 2011 meeting attracted participants from different denominations who chose a working committee to draft the document.
“This document is the result and product of the ‘working committee’ of the Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders drawn from those in attendance,” it is stated in the document.

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