By Johan Viljoen, Reabetswe Tloubatla, Jeanette Lesisa: Denis Hurley Peace Institute- Pretoria, South Africa
Three days dedicated to the Prayer for Peace in the world with a special focus to Eswatini that is rocked by unyielding political violence and deaths were sanctioned by the Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini, Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon, to emphasize this responsibility as Christians and countrymen. This responsibility requires of us to ceaselessly be instruments of peace and therefore bring a much needed gift to our country and the world over.
This dedication of the Three Days Prayer instructs all Priests to celebrate Masses for the Holy Spirit, Reconciliation, and Justice & Peace. This is to ensure that we appeal to the Holy Spirit to reconcile those torn apart by malevolence to be restored and made whole through expedient justice and everlasting peace. Further, these celebrations are to be conducted through firstly the Scriptural Rosary for Justice & Peace and all prayers concluded using the diocesan prayers for peace. The Bishop reiterated that we should “never tire to ask God for this precious gift that the dignity of every person may be respected and for an end to violence and destruction.”
The call to prayer by the Bishop is warranted considering the adverse impact of these global trends of violence and destruction, particularly the economic implications. In Eswatini, the rate of inflation has so surged to such levels that the basket of goods is very costly compared to the beginning of the year. The cost of fuel has increased by more than 25% in the last four months. This rise has domino-ed onto other goods (especially foods like bread), which has caused much angst and despair among consumers. The increase in the cost of living is an effect from the poignant war between Russia and Ukraine affecting global supply chains. Nonetheless, this negative economic effect will certainly ripple into the political sphere.
The political sphere is also tethered by a hardened regime that seeks no discourse with its populace that wants to have a meaningful dialogue on the state of governance in the country. The absolute Monarch refuses any and all interventions that would see him relinquish any authority and power to the people. The regional body cooperate, SADC, has sought to assist the nation voyage these unchartered territories in its history. SADC’s Security Organ had called for a summit with regional leaders, including Eswatini, to discuss proficient interventions for Eswatini for the 21st July 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa. King Mswati III had reluctantly agreed to attend the summit but then changed his mind on the eleventh hour. Various reasons were stated for the initial reluctance and subsequent change of mind citing security concerns (that he would suffer a similar fate as the late Shinzo Abe) and undefined ‘unavailability.’ This resulted in the extraordinary summit to be postponed until Eswatini can attend as the main agenda item for this summit.
The clear refusal to host a national dialogue coupled with the continued neglect of the nation compounded by the inflation spikes might stoke a bigger political fire that would exacerbate the status quo of violence and destruction. This is indicative of a system of governance that is nearing its end as history has shown with many great and small empires throughout time in the flames of change for death or rebirth. However, we must hold the Pope Francis’ words in our hearts,
“Now Lord, come to our aid!
Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace.
Instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace”