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Anglican leaders' visit marks deep concern for troubled Swaziland

Posted on: July 6, 2004 11:31 AM
Related Categories: Southern Africa

Media release from the office of the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, the Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Province of Southern Africa

5 July 2004

The Archbishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa will lead a global delegation to Swaziland next week (8-10 July 2004).

Swaziland is one of the six countries within the Church of the Province of Southern Africa. This visit comes in response to appeals from Bishop Meshack Mabuza, Anglican Bishop of Swaziland, and members of his region, for wider Anglican Communion involvement.

This pastoral visit will enable the delegation to familiarise itself with the situation and to show solidarity and support - through prayer and discussion - with the leaders and people of Swaziland.

Archbishop Ndungane will be accompanied by: the Bishop of Lebombo in Mozambique, the Rt Revd Dinis Sengulane; the Bishop of the Highveld and Dean of the Province, the Rt Revd David Beetge; the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, the Rt Revd John Chane; the Bishop of Edinburgh and representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Revd Brian Smith; the Reverend Canon John L. Peterson, the Secretary General of the worldwide Anglican Communion; and Canon James Rosenthal, who is Director of Communications for the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"The situation in Swaziland seems to have reached a crisis", says Archbishop Ndungane. "Poverty is rife, with a reported 65% of the Swazi population living below the poverty line and the HIV and AIDS statistics are reported as the highest in the world."

"The hospitals are only able to provide 2,000 hospital beds at any given time which means that about 18,000 people die in their homes. A UNICEF study conducted in 2002 showed that there were 5,500 orphan-headed homes with the eldest being 11 years old. The Anglican diocesan AIDS programme lays emphasis on home care but obviously the need is far greater than we can meet."

The delegation intends meeting church and civic leaders, the head of state, the prime minister and various ambassadors to Swaziland to discuss the socio-economic situation and the ongoing constitutional development of that country. A service will be held in the Anglican Cathedral Church of All Saints in Mbabane on Saturday morning (10 July).