The bishops, meeting in Benoni near Johannesburg from 27 to 29 September for their twice-yearly synod, challenged their church to become more involved in the quest for democracy in Swaziland.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, the leader of the church, said on 30 September he could not remain silent on the issue of democracy in Swaziland, ‘where power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, and political debate is hardly permitted’.
A state of emergency has existed in Swaziland for the past 37 years. Freedom of expression is severely limited, opposition political parties are banned, and reports of police arresting and beating up critics are frequent.
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), a not-for-profit organization, alleges that there is now less political freedom in Swaziland than in another neighbour of South Africa - Zimbabwe - where Robert Mugabe has been president for 30 years.