Swaziland
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PRIESTS TRANSFER: 250 ANGLICAN MEMBERS PETITON BISHOP

MBABANE – About 250 members of the Anglican Church, from different branches in the Hhohho Region, yesterday petitioned their Bishop Dr Dalcy Dlamini at her place of residence.

The church and the bishop’s residence are located on a hill near the United Nations (UN) building, about 1.4 kilometres north of the Mbabane Bus Rank. Some of the issues that gave rise to the petitioning of the bishop by the congregants include the transfer of the All Saints Rector Advent Nhlanhla Dlamini and his arch dean, to Mhlume. The duo is expected to relocate to their new workstation by April 30, 2023. The discontent church members also made a hue and cry about the alleged non-vetting of the bishop before she took over the position. The members of the church, who were present during the highly charged meeting, where the decision to petition the bishop was taken, came from branches situated on the outskirts of Mbabane and surrounding areas.

Another burning issue which was on the lips of the congregants was the alleged non-remittance of contributions by the various branches. They said these were monthly contributions to assist the church in running its affairs and to honour other obligations that they had as a church.  The money, according to one of the members, is utilised to pay salaries for the priests and its non-remittance was affecting them. Present during the meeting which was held at All Saints Cathedral were church members from Mpolonjeni, Fonteyn, Jubukweni, Sidwashini, Maphalaleni, Phefeni, Nsingweni and the All Saints Cathedral (Mbabane) branches.

Decision

The decision to petition the bishop was taken during a meeting that was convened by the aggrieved congregants, immediately after the conclusion of the main Sunday service. It was during the heated meeting that lasted for about two hours where the members made a litany of complaints about the office of the bishop. It was during this meeting that they resolved that the various branches would no longer make contributions towards the upkeep of the church. The members expressed their dissatisfaction in the manner in which the transfers of the duo to Mhlume was handled by the office of the bishop. On Wednesday, the members of the church promised that they would be back at the bishop’s house, depending on what her response would be on the matter. They stated that they wanted to give a directive to the bishop on how they wanted the church to be run and requested her presence. The bishop’s house is about 500 metres away from the All Saints Church. While others requested that the petition be sent on Wednesday, the consensus was that the matter was urgent, hence the bishop should be petitioned yesterday to send a clear message to her. The Christians were of the view that some of them would be held up on Wednesday, yet they wanted to come in numbers to show the seriousness of the matter.

Resolved

They resolved in their meeting that the transfers be stopped, while the issue was being resolved by the archbishop’s office. The Christians made it clear that if the response from the archbishop of Cape Town’s office was not satisfactory, it shall be rejected. Furthermore, they reaffirmed that they would not remit the assessments. On the issue of the rector’s transfer, they stated that there would not be any movement, while they were still waiting for the archbishop’s response. Also, they mentioned that the response from the archbishop’s office should be aligned with the manner they wanted the church to operate, which would make it grow and not divide it. The church’s treasurer, Manqoba Shongwe, is the one who read out the petition. Shongwe said the church was still addressing the matter and the bishop failed to give them responses regarding same but instead spoke in another platform. He said they had written to the archbishop’s office in Cape Town, South Africa and were awaiting a response.

Shongwe stated that the impromptu meeting, which was held yesterday, reaffirmed that they would not remit assessments. Also, he mentioned that the group of church members who met at 6:30am on a daily basis had written a letter to the archbishop as well, complaining that they were failing to meet with the bishop, despite several requests made. He stated that there was also a petition which was written which they had come to deliver. Making their submissions during the meeting, Shongwe stated that the church was in a middle of a crisis. He said they referred to the issue as a crisis considering where it all started. He said the issue could have been long resolved but seemingly there was someone who did not consider them as Christ’s believers. “This is our church and we have a responsibility to state how we want to be governed,” he said. He said all bishops in the Anglican Church were vetted but the one they had was allegedly not.

metropolitan

Thokozani Nkambule said the church had sought the indulgence of the metropolitan on the issue, that whatever actions the bishop had in place should be halted until the archbishop intervened. Nkambule stated that they had given the bishop enough time to respond but she failed to do so. “We request that the issue of the rector’s transfer should be halted and no action taken until the metropolitan is engaged,” he said. The metropolitan is actually the  archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan, which is the head office of the church. He said in the event that the metropolitan failed to give them what they wanted, they would take action as and when necessary. Giving the background on the matter, Senior Warden Lolo Mkhabela said they had written to the archbishop who had not yet acknowledged receipt of their letter, seven days later. Mkhabela said they narrated to the archbishop when they had started addressing the matter on how they had been ignored by the bishop.

She said on Saturday, they emphasised to the archbishop to respond as the matter was serious and could divide the church. Mkhabela said it was painful that the matter was now in the media domain. Receiving the petition was the Diocese Secretary Sebenzile Nxumalo. She assured the christians that they would pass the message to Dr Dalcy, whom they tried to reach on her mobile phone to inform her about the visit by the Anglican Church members.