Persecution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Swaziland
The violation of human rights by the Tinkhundla System of government in Swaziland has stooped to appalling lows with such freedoms as the freedom of association breached to the lengths of blocking Christians from entering a church to worship and fellowship. This was witnessed by the local congregants of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mbabane branch situated at kaSchiele mission in Tembelihle, who were joined by members of the civic society on the 31st October 2011 and 15th October 2012. This was a peaceful gathering for a prayer service which was to be led by Bishop Absalom Mnisi and Reverend Zwanini Shabalala, all this was done to request a divine intervention to the swiftly declining standards of living in Swaziland caused by among the main factors the intolerance of the government and the monarchy towards the citizens of the country.
This was not to be as on this day an army of 200 members of the joint forces, Royal Swaziland Police and Correctional Services descended on the kaSchiele mission led by the Regional Commander and categorically stated that in no uncertain terms was there to be a prayer service in the church or anywhere within the mission for that matter. As Reverend Z Shabalala commented in his article in relation to the incident entitled “Are We Mocking God”, the people of Swaziland have nobody but God to cry to as the monarchy and government have turned a deaf ear to all their please, but when they are prevented from exercising their right to pray, what more can they do.
This is one of the reasons why I have chosen to join the Swazi Vigil in the United Kingdom and condemn these violations of fundamental human rights in my country Swaziland, the Mbabane Evangelical Lutheran Church happens to be the church I was baptised in as a toddler and grew up attending and even preached in as a lay preacher, it really greaves my heart when the Bishop Right Reverend A Mnisi has turned into a criminal who is constantly under police surveillance just because he has opted not to discriminate political activists from the church. This is a religious minister simply responding to his call to preach the gospel of Christ. The church itself has drawn so much interest from the police who are constantly monitoring every single activity, even one of the church members who joined the police force has been turned into an investigator , whenever he attends a service he is expected to take notes and report back to his superiors of any suspicious members of the congregation. It is an appalling shame and gross violation of the right to religion enshrined in the bill of rights of the current constitution in Swaziland.