Thursday, April 5, 2018


A Swaziland church is to spend millions of emalangeni on a campaign to ‘restore moral fibre’ to the kingdom.

Apostle Justice Dlamini of the Worship Centre Church will take the campaign to all four regions. E2 million (US$170,000) is to be spent.

Apostle Dlamini is a fierce critic of Incwala, an annual traditional ceremony that has King Mswati III at its centre. He has called Incwala ungodly and witchcraft.

The Swaziland Gospel Transformation Campaign was announced on Good Friday (30 March 2018). The Times of Swaziland reported Dlamini saying,  ‘The Worship Centre is determined to help in transforming the lives of the Swazi nation. We have built a structure, now it is time to build the lives of people. We are adamant that in 20 years’ time, we will see the emergence of a society that is responsible, with people who love one another and [do] not kill each other.’

Apostle Dlamini, as plain Pastor Dlamini, has been a controversial figure in Swaziland for many years. He has been criticised for his intolerance of other faiths, particularly Muslims.

In 2007, he announced he had prayed to God for the deaths of two journalists in Swaziland who had written and published an article critical of him.

But, he is mainly remembered for his attacks on Incwala. In 2002, Swazi police raided Channel S, the only privately-owned television station in the kingdom, and confiscated a videotape containing a sermon that had been termed by the Swazi government as ‘threatening the foundations of the kingdom’.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa reported at the time the footage was of a sermon broadcast nationally and regionally (throughout the Southern African Development Community). It reported, ‘During the sermon, Pastor Justice Dlamini, of the Swaziland Association of Christian Ministries (SACM), suggested that some of the cultural practices in the country are “ungodly”. Dlamini was referring to the Incwala, an annual cultural celebration.’

MISA’s Swaziland chapter condemned the raid on the television station, saying that it was unwarranted and impinged on Swazi citizens’ freedom of expression. It reported that Dlamini had suffered harassment by policymakers in the kingdom, ostensibly in the name of protecting culture and the monarchy.

MISA added, ‘In Swaziland, the state is embodied in the person of the sovereign himself, King Mswati III, the 16th king from the House of Dlamini, which has ruled the Swazis since the 1500s. Swazis do not distinguish between the nation and the man, and while the King is not considered divine, he is the central figure of the month-long sacred Incwala (kingship/harvest) ceremonies, held when the first fruits ripen in summer.

‘During the Incwala, tens of thousands of Swazis in traditional attire converge on the Queen Mother's village and petition the national ancestral spirits to endow the King with wisdom, and the nation with good rains and fortune.’

The Swaziland Conference of Churches was summoned before labadzala, the traditional elders of Ludzidzini Royal Residence, in 2009 after Pastor Dlamini preached against Incwala.

Mbongeni Mbingo, writing in the Times Sunday in August 2009, said, ‘Pastor Justice appears to have stoked the fires by telling Christians that Incwala is unholy and that there is witchcraft practiced at the ceremony. It was during a national prayer held at the Somhlolo Stadium where he had been invited by the Conference of Churches, no doubt because not only is he a man of God, but he is a pastor who has stood firm in his teachings and beliefs.

Mbingo added, ‘He has made it clear he does not believe the Incwala is a national prayer, obviously something we are certain would infuriate the traditional leadership of this country.’

Mbingo wrote, ‘But the traditional authorities, especially the Ludzidzini council, has reacted with shock, dismay and anger, first summoning the pastor to appear before it so as to explain what exactly he meant, and then proceeding to summon the Swaziland Conference of Churches. 

‘The idea of course, and the impression, is that Pastor Justice is wrong to criticise the Incwala—and therefore he must be dealt with. Pastor Justice, so far, has refused to bow to the lunacy and did not respond to the summons, and has so far, chosen not to respond to the criticism levelled against him.

‘But the Ludzidzini Council does not want to encourage a debate around the issue of the holy-ness or not of a ceremony we have come to call our national prayer. 

‘This is why Pastor Justice has spoken out against this, because he argues it should not be referred to as a national prayer, because it is not, further describing it as witchcraft. 

‘Obviously, it should be expected that such statements would ruffle many people’s feathers, but really, should it then be that the Ludzidzini Libandla would rather not have a debate around the issue? 

‘It appears to me that the traditional authorities would be happier if this topic was never even entertained, and that anyone who does so then invites the wrath of the authorities—which is nonsense of course.’

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