Swaziland has been given an award for ‘its contribution to peace, development and good governance’ by a group with links to the cultish Unification Church despite being ranked 34 out of 54 countries in Africa on governance by the world-renowned Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
The group making the award was the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules the kingdom as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Thursday (25 January 2018) that Swaziland won ‘the gold award’ at the UPF’s First Africa Summit.
No further details of the award were given. The award is surrounded in mystery. A website created by UPF to publicise the ceremony that took place in Dakar, Senegal on 18-19 January 2018 had pages headed ‘program’ and ‘press kit’ but the pages were blank.
The Observer reported, ‘The UPF leaders expressed their support for the country’s Vision 2022 and confidence that Swaziland can be a world leader in peace-building and model country for promoting peace, development and prosperity for its people.
‘They expressed their desire to meet Their Majesties and to mobilise resources and investments to support the country in its vision. Other dignitaries from outside Swaziland also recognised and congratulated the country for its efforts in promoting peace.’
It reported Zombodze Emuva MP Dr Titus Thwala received the gold award on behalf of the kingdom.
The award for good governance comes as a surprise because Swaziland was ranked 34 out of 54 countries for overall governance in the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance produced by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. It received a score of 55.8 out of a hundred for rule of law. Other scores out of a hundred included: judicial independence (21.3); freedom of expression (22.8); civil liberties (33.3); and freedom of association and assembly (12.5).
The UPF was founded by Rev Sun Myung Moon who also created the Unification Church, popularly known as ‘the Moonies’.
After he died in 2012, the Daily Telegraph, a right-wing newspaper in the United Kingdom reported in an obituary, ‘Moon, a South Korean multi-millionaire businessman, discovered his vocation as the “second Messiah” in 1936, when he claimed to have met Jesus Christ on a Korean hillside, recognising Him from His picture. Jesus informed Moon that He had been unable to complete His mission on earth due to unforeseen circumstances, so Moon (Jesus went on) had been chosen to succeed Him and to establish the Kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.’
It added, ‘Moon gave every impression of believing his own sermons, and his blend of hard-sell Christianity and Eastern mysticism proved particularly appealing to the idealistic progeny of affluent Westerners, who were encouraged to hand over their worldly goods, reject their biological parents and accept the Moons as their “true parents”.’
It said, ‘Moon engendered widespread hostility among parents, alarmed at the changed personalities of their converted children. Some mounted lawsuits accusing Moon of practising brainwashing, and there were reports of cult members being kidnapped and de-programmed by “cult-busters”.’
The Telegraph obituary said, ‘While Moon’s adoring followers were persuaded to part with their worldly goods and were sent out unpaid on fund-raising missions, Moon was ferried round in chauffeur-driven limousines, took fishing holidays on his 50ft luxury cabin cruiser and lived in a sumptuous New York property modelled on a Korean palace. The source of Moon’s original capital remained a mystery, but the fact that the church’s dedicated workers received no wages certainly contributed to his success. In 2008 one estimate put Moon’s personal wealth at about $990 million.’
In an obituary, the New York Times reported, ‘As his church grew more prominent in the 1970s and ’80s, it became embroiled in lawsuits over soliciting funds, acquiring property and recruiting followers. Defectors wrote damaging books. From 1973 to 1986 at least 400 of the church’s flock were abducted by their family members to undergo “deprogramming,” according to an estimate by David G. Bromley, a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and an expert on Mr Moon. The church denied that it had brainwashed its followers, saying members joined and stayed of their own free will.’
It added, ‘In the late 1970s, Mr Moon came under the scrutiny of federal authorities, mainly over allegations that he was involved in efforts by the South Korean government to bribe members of Congress to support President Park Chung-hee. A Congressional subcommittee said there was evidence of ties between Mr Moon and Korean intelligence, and that the church had raised money and moved it across borders in violation of immigration and local charity laws.
‘Then, in October 1981, Mr Moon was named in a 12-count federal indictment. He was accused of failing to report $150,000 in income from 1973 to 1975, a sum consisting of interest from $1.6 million that he had deposited in New York bank accounts in his own name, according to the indictment.’
Moon was convicted the next year of tax fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was assigned to kitchen duty.
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