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Manzini – “The situation in the country remains ‘calm’ with sporadic episodes of violence. Some school buildings were set on fire. The army was deployed on June 29 and has not been called back to the barracks since then. Concers were raised regarding the request to allocate more money to the security forces and the risk of making this a military state”. This is what the Bishop of the only diocese of the kingdom of eSwatini, based in Manzini, His Exc. Mgr. José Luis Gerardo Ponce de Leon, IMC, reported in describing the situation of the small monarchical state of southern Africa which at the end of June was shaken by unprecedented popular protests .
However, “the government has not yet given any indications about the way forward and how the issues raised by the unrest would be addressed”, highlights the Bishop, noting how “some oposition groups have called to boycott businesses linked to the Royal family in order to put pressure on the government and achieve the very much needed national dialogue”.
A delegation from the Southern African Development Community met with civil society, political parties and church organizations to ascertain the facts. “The SADC fact finding mission report has been presented to government but as far as I know the contents have not been made available to the public – explains the Bishop -. For the sake of the SADC image it is important that everyone has access to it as the consultation involved the government and many other organisations: NGOs, political groups and churches. Social media has offered a space to opposition groups in particular to share their view on the present situation of the country and possible ways forward. I believe it is a new initiative brought by the unrest and being available to everyone has created an important space to share different views”.
His Majesty called the nation to three days of fasting and prayer . This was welcomed by the three Christian church bodies: the Council, the League and the Conference of Churches of eSwatini and the Council of the Churches of Swaziland”. “The Council of Churches provided the Church members with intentions of prayer for those days helping the faithful to present to God in prayer the political and social problems we are facing. At the same time some underlined that action should follow prayer and that one should not expect God to solve our problems without our own commitment”.