First get your house in order'
MBABANE – Pastor Justice Dlamini of the Worship Centre has called for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to resign as they have failed in their duty to curb corruption in the country.
Dlamini was responding to the ACC’s assertion that there is corruption in church through acts of having people pay large sums of money in the belief that they would be prayed for and in turn would have huge returns,
He said the ACC is being very unprofessional and disgusting in the way they are handling the complaints of people who come to them with such serious allegations.
"My question and concern is since they are an organ of government fully empowered and mandated by certain laws to thoroughly address corruption matters, why can’t they get the full particulars of the church or churches concerned and call their leaders to account for the complaints of those members who have come to complain?
"They should then request those churches to refund the aggrieved members the monies they feel they offered under duress or by corrupt means.
"My belief is that an offering, no matter how much it is, should be offered because an individual has belief in the Word of God that was preached with regard to offering towards God’s work, with a willing heart, Exodus 25:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.
"If certain people offer and later feel that they did it under duress, they can go to the pastor or church concerned and request a refund. If any of my members can come back and say we need a refund of our monies, which we gave because we feel we gave under duress, I can first of all realise that I took an offering from people who are not born again, who are not committed to God and who have no covenant with God, and therefore urgently refund them cash, there and then.
"I can never carry out God’s work using monies of people who are unbelievers in God and His Word," said Dlamini.
He argued that the ACC unit is now labelling churches as breeding ground for corruption which, in his assertion, is not fair because the churches of God in Swaziland are holy institutions for transforming and correcting morals of the Swazi society.
"The church is an advocate for anti-corruption. It should always be the light and the salt of the earth. I therefore truly blame the Anti-Corruption unit for failing to address such a simple matter, which is within the scope of their mandate.
"They are not being honest themselves by failing to bring to accountability a church or churches that have been reported to them.
"If they have a problem approaching those churches and their pastors, why can’t they go to leading bodies, which are League of Churches, Council of Churches and Conference of Churches, where every church should be affiliated.
"They would then summon those implicated churches and their pastors to come and answer to the legitimate complaints and allegations. This is normal practice in all the different disciplines of practice.
For instance, an unscrupulous medical doctor is reported to the Medical Association for investigation and disciplinary processes, an unscrupulous lawyer is reported to the Law Society of the land, an unscrupulous teacher is reported to the Teaching Service Commission and so forth.
"They can follow the same route with this matter, by just approaching the body that those accused churches are affiliated to instead of the joking they are engaged in at the moment. It’s their duty to do that.
"They must follow a matter to its roots and uproot any corruption they come across," he argued further.
Dlamini said he has always said that as long as the operations of churches in Swaziland are regulated and as long as there are church bodies that are totally disorganised in accounting for the churches affiliated to them, the public is at a risk of being corned by fly by night, and get rich quick, unregistered churches, which are mushrooming everywhere in this country, in tents, under trees, in school classrooms, in garages, in houses and everywhere as it is happening.
He said the ACC must stop generalising the labelling of churches as ‘breeding ground for corruption’ without doing its work of solving corruption, which they are paid for.
If they can’t help the people who come to them to say they have been conned their money in churches, then they must resign because they have failed to render services to the Swazi public and government that mandated them to stop corruption, said Dlamini.
"If it is true that they have real identities and contacts of people who have called them or are calling them that they have been crooked in certain churches, why can’t they call those concerned churches and their pastors and ask them to respond to the allegations and then make a public statement of their findings.
"I don’t understand why they can’t do that or at least tell those people to go to the police to lay criminal charges against those churches and pastors who have crooked them instead of seeking cheap media attention, without solving the actual problem that has been reported to them," he said.
He said to him this is a serious matter that involves the church, which is an institution he beliefs should always be above reproach.
corruption a major concern for ACC
MbABANE – The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said it is concerned about corruption that touches on different sectors of society including the church.
The Public Relations Officer, Jabu Phakati said they appreciate the relationship they have fostered with different churches and different mother bodies and the difference is acknowledged as their affiliates invite the Commission to talk about corruption with their members.
That said, Phakati said it was important to note that church members are also members of the society, some of which are being investigated by the Commission on allegations of corruption.
The ACC would like to laud the church leaders who made their comments in last week’s Swazi News issue for acknowledging that the church is no exception where corruption is concerned.
The ACC believes that the first step towards solving a problem is accepting that there is a problem. In the same vein, the ACC appreciates the suggestions brought by Pastor Justice, she said.
"However, we would like to make clarifications pertaining to some of his assertions. Fighting corruption is a shared responsibility and the church, as a pillar of integrity, has a role to play as it is supposed to be a barometer to measure integrity.
"Therefore, no single stakeholder can eradicate corruption in Swaziland but a collective effort from the different stakeholders including the church. For one to say, the other has failed, they need to have done and fulfilled their bit.
"Pastor Justice has a point when he says ACC should use mother bodies to deal with corruption allegations in the church. However, there are various issues that need to be taken into consideration and these include the fact that some churches are not affiliated to any mother body and that the ACC has a legal mandate to protect whistle-blowers’ identity among others. That is why, there is a need for all stakeholders within the church to put heads together to find a way of dealing with corruption elements in the church.
"Let us restate that the ACC is in by no way against offerings of any kind brought to the church. We would also like to clarify that never at any point did the ACC brand churches as a breeding ground for corruption.
"What was stated was that if money is demanded in church and people are asked to even take loans, then the people will be overburdened and they will not have means of survival, then that becomes a breeding ground for corruption as the person will engage other means to survive. No specific church has been branded corrupt by the ACC," she explained.
Phakati further said the issue of corruption in the church is a global concern, not just an issue concerning Swaziland alone.
She said various church leaders in other countries have expressed concern about corruption in the church and they even went to the extent of listing what they perceived to be the drivers of corruption and these include; greed, selfishness, envy, lavishness, flagrant flaunting of wealth, competition among church leaders on the size of the church.
"They also expressed concern at the manner and speed churches were springing up and that the new churches were not teaching people to work hard and harvest their sweat but only talked about blessings. They also felt people do not ask what their money is used for, because they fear reprisals. They felt a corrupt religious body cannot challenge a corrupt society.
"Also, the Commission did not dream up the issue of corruption in the church in Swaziland, the results of the first National Corruption Perception Survey, 2010 confirmed that there is corruption in the church," she said.
The results show that interviewed Swazis perceive this sector to be corrupt due to the increase of ministries that are run as personal businesses as compared to the orthodox churches that are run by a Board of Trustees, added Phakati.
She said some of these organisa-tions have become pyramid sc-hemes.
The respondents mentioned that money is laundered in the churches in the form of donations.
There is also lack of accountability in the operations and the disbursement of funds. Funds are used for personal enrichment.
"For instance, the church property is sometimes registered under the name of the pastor," she said.
Phakati said the ACC encourages healthy discussions on finding solutions to issues of corruption in the church and they respect and believe opinions by any stakeholder, regardless of their social sta-nding, will make a difference in the fight against corruption in the country.
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