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MANZINI – While all parties seem to be in agreement on the need for dialogue in light of the ongoing political unrest in the country, there is no consensus on how this dialogue should be held.

This was said by South African Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, who is the President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC). He said this during a press conference held at the Roman Catholic Bishop’s House in Manzini yesterday and this was after the SACBC’s week-long fact-finding mission about the ongoing unrest in the Kingdom of Eswatini.


The team of SACBC executive members, who included the president, Secretary General Father Hugh O’Connor and Associate Secretary Phuthunywa Siyali, arrived in the country last Wednesday and during the mission, they met with government and various stakeholders, including the Council of Swaziland Churches, the youth and The Nation Magazine Editor Bheki Makhubu among others. According to the SACBC president, they came to the country because they were concerned about the ongoing unrest and their visit was to show their solidarity with the kingdom in light of the current situation.

Following their visit, he said they were informed about what was happening in the country.  “We are aware of the complexity of the situation and that there are more than one views about it,” the president said. In that regard, he said their prayer was that there would be some kind of engagement between the stakeholders; the leadership of the country and the people in order to find a solution.  He said they encouraged the stakeholders to have engagements and mentioned that they were willing to support means of finding a way forward.

However, he mentioned that even though the stakeholders had different views, they were all prepared for dialogue and as SACBC they were pleased by that.
He then raised a concern that in as much as the stakeholders were prepared for dialogue, they did not agree on how it (dialogue) should be and what it meant.
“In that regard, there is a need to dialogue about the dialogue before it starts,” the president said. He said the stakeholders needed to meet and discuss how they would talk about the key issues which resulted in the unrest.

Thereafter, the associate secretary said as they interacted with the stakeholders, the voice of the young people was clear that they wanted to be heard and recognised. He said even young religious women also made it clear that they wanted to be heard. Sipuka said in order for the situation to improve, the stakeholders needed to be open, talk about the issues and listen to each other. He added that they were aware that there was a traditional way of dialoguing (Sibaya). He said this was good because it meant that dialogue was not strange or new in the country.


However, he said as time went by, changes took place and things developed, adding that there were proposals that different ways of dialoguing should be used.
Moreover, the president said without sounding like he did not understand the temptation for people to be violent, violence begets violence. He added that for whatever reason, it was not the way to go because it would lead to further violence. He said even if the change would be achieved, it would be the people who would live with the consequences of the violence.

According to the Roman Catholic Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon, the unrest started in May 2021 after the death of Thabani Nkomonye and it escalated in June 2021. Nkomonye is the 25-year-old man who went missing on the night of May 8, 2021 after his car was involved in a road traffic accident at Nhlambeni. After the accident, his body was not located. It was eventually discovered five days later.

The delay in the discovery of Nkomonye’s body raised questions among many, resulting in the #JusticeForThabani movement, whereupon the members of the public demanded answers from the police. Thereafter, then acting Prime Minister (PM), Themba Masuku appointed a Coroner, Senior Magistrate Nonhlanhla Dlamini to lead an inquest into the death of Nkomonye.

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