The Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa have raised an alarm concerning the poverty,
the misgovernance and the corruption in the tiny landlocked Kingdom of Swaziland.
Southern African nation is bordered to the North and South by South Africa, and to
the East by Mozambique.
It’s advertised as an ideal holiday venue with beautiful
nature, lots of wildlife and traditional culture.
But the Bishops are voicing
their concern at the lack of human rights in Swaziland and are calling on the king
and government to make some radical changes.
Linda Bordoni spoke to Durban
Archbishop, Wilfrid Fox Napier, who spoke of a recent visit to the Kingdom of Swaziland
and about the Bishop’s recently released statement which registers their concern.
Cardinal Napier says the country is in the throes of an unprecedented financial
and societal crisis. He tells of how four prelates paid a visit to the country (Archbishop
Buti Tlhagale, Bishop Joe Sandri, Bishop Barry Wood and himself), their reason was
to give solidarity and support, but also to meet from people of the opposition who
told stories of deep economical, social and political difficulty.
At the end
of the visit the prelates were asked to help by revealing the predicament of the Swazi
people to the rest of the world.
The bishops agreed and wrote a statement which
enumerates the following points: Swaziland has:
HIV & AIDS infection rate in the world (26%); the lowest life expectancy in the
world (32 years); an unemployment rate of 40% and rising; and extreme poverty
with 70% of its population living below the poverty line of less than US$6 a day.
a State of Emergency that has curtailed freedom of expression, association and
dissent for the last 37 years.
And in their statement, the bishops
went on to call on the government to implement a series of reforms:
· the recognition
and implementation the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Swaziland; · the
revocation by King Mswati III of the royal decree of 12 April 1973 which established
a state of emergency; · that King Mswati III enter into meaningful dialogue with
his people in order to facilitate movement towards true democracy his country; ·
the establishment of a democratic process for writing a new constitution in which
all Swazi’s have a part; · that the current Swazi Constitution be amended to
reinstate the full range of human rights. Cardinal Napier concluded asking for
prayers for the people in Swaziland. Very much like Zimbabwe - he said - it is going
to take divine intervention to get that change of heart in the king and in his advisors
and in those running the security apparatus. It will take a miracle for that change
to take place. listen to the interview...