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Southern Africa’s bishops blast Swaziland’s ‘brutal’ regime

Catholic World News - June 13, 2011

Speaking on behalf of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban called for prayers for “meaningful change” in Swaziland.

“Swaziland is a country in turmoil, a country tearing itself apart from the inside by the actions of an uncaring head of state and a regime that is getting more brutal by the day,” he said following a visit to the landlocked nation, which is surrounded by South Africa. “Abuse by those in authority is the primary cause of the current crisis, in which dissenting views meet with brutality of the highest order.”

“Swaziland is currently in the throes of an unprecedented crisis,” he continued. “It has the highest HIV AIDS infection rate in the world (26%); the lowest life expectancy in the world (32 years); an unemployment rate of 40% and rising; an extreme poverty rate with 70% of its population living below the poverty line, which is set at under 6 dollars a day.”

Calling Swaziland’s government “a breeding place for corruption and greed,” the cardinal added that “Monies intended for alleviating the people’s suffering are diverted to support the lavish lifestyle of the monarchy and its cohorts, namely the king, his 13 wives, 30 children, other members of the royal family and hangers-on.”

The nation of 1.2 million is 5% Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.

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