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MBABANE - “The matter of All Saints is painful and characterised by many meetings and voluminous letters exchanged between the parties.”

This was said by Anglican Church Bishop Dr Dalcy Dlamini, in a correspondence directed to lawyers who had been instructed to call upon her to immediately withdraw the transfer of Rector Advent Nhlanhla Dlamini. The leadership of the Cathedral Parish in Mbabane, represented by All Saints Churchwardens, has since approached lawyers from Robison Bertram to act on their behalf after the bishop purportedly continued with the transfer of Reverend Nhlanhla. In the correspondence written by the lawyers, a demand has been made to the bishop to immediately retract the letter transferring the rector, pending resolution of the concerns contained in the Safe and Inclusive Church Reporting Form as well as the delivery of the findings of the task team.


“In the event that you persist and not retract the correspondence or engage the wardens in some interim arrangement, we hold instructions to launch urgent court proceedings to interdict you from proceeding with what is patently an impermissible cause of action,” reads part of the correspondence directed to the bishop. In response, Bishop Dalcy first highlighted that Rector Nhlanhla had been with the Cathedral for more than 22 years, where he also held the position of Dean, very much longer than any priest to be posted in any church within the Eswatini Diocese.She said the rippling effect of such long posting created problems when the congregation got personally attached to the rector.  The bishop said it was understandable that close relationships had been formed with the church members.


“His experience is very vast, but he is needed in other parishes so that the diocese can spiritually grow,” reads part of the bishop’s correspondence. According to the bishop, the rotational transfers were not unique to the Anglican Church, as that was normal in churches like the Evangelical, Roman Catholic, Alliance, John Wesley and the Church of the Nazarene, among others. She related  that Advent Nhlanhla had been nominated by the Cathedral as a bishop-elect, but there was no automatic winner in the 2021 elections, thus she was elected by the Synod of Bishops headed by Archbishop Thabo Makoba in 2022.

“Clearly the cathedral was not happy at the loss of their candidate yet the cathedral is the main and central church of the bishop within the diocese. The office of the dean is akin to deputy bishop. The wardens or someone caused a letter to be published in the newspapers authored by Advent Dlamini that he is not willing to work with us during our tenure of bishop. We brushed aside the feeling of Advent Dlamini and continued to work with him, even not encouraging him to resign when such thought crossed his mind, because we still have great plans for him as a senior priest,” said the bishop. These are allegations whose veracity is still to be tested.

She went on to state that, after they had been consecrated and following their canons, they sat and prayed with Advent Nhlanhla and, thereafter, worked in unison in rotating the priests around for spiritual growth and to fill vacant posts. According to the bishop, at that time he held the position of dean, Advent Nhlanhla was also amenable to be moved anywhere else, but he specifically asked not to be transferred to the Luve Parish and she duly took note of his request.


“We consulted thoroughly with Reverend Dlamini but during that process, the wardens started contacting us clearly exhibiting that Rev Dlamini was now seeking support from them and we met with the wardens and the Parish Church Council (PCC) for a consultation on March 4, 2023.” stated the bishop. She said they thought the matter was concluded on that day, in that he (Rev Nhlanhla) would stay as rector until further notice. She alleged that unfortunately, he missed the meeting without leave from the bishop. Bishop Dalcy said an invite had been sent to Rev Nhlanhla to attend as the Chair of the PCC.

“The bishop duly confirmed the resolution taken on March 4, 2023 in a letter, but your clients came up with a fresh demand that they want Rev Dlamini to be posted permanently at the cathedral. The demand was uncanonical even if one were to accede to it. No cogent reason was put forth why Rev Dlamini had to be posted permanently in the cathedral. Your letter is also amiss of the reasoning behind such request,” she stated. It was alleged by the bishop that the wardens allegedly started calling vestry meetings, which were not canonically provided for.

“It is worth mentioning that your clients are officers of the bishop and have abrogated from that responsibility, while wearing the cloaks of wardens. Even before meeting the congregants, they had made a resolution that Rev Dlamini should be posted permanently, thus the congregation rubberstamped the wardens’ thoughts in the matter,” said the bishop. She mentioned that they sent four diocesan legal team officials to try and find a way forward between the office of the bishop and wardens.


“The four legal officers comprised of two congregants from All Saints and an acquaintance to Rev Dlamini and a neutral person. Your clients rejected these diocesan officials, which comprised of people who had journeyed with Rev Dlamini ever since he arrived in the cathedral. One such official had in the near distant past blocked some members of the current PCC and congregants who wanted Rev Dlamini to be transferred from the cathedral for overstaying his term and introducing a free service once a month that did not celebrate the Holy Communion in order to contain those congregants who were joining other ministry churches, where the Holy Communion was not celebrated.

“After rejecting the legal officials, the wardens thereafter lodged an appeal with the Metropolitan Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who held that the matter is premature before him and directed the cathedral to utilise the internal structures,” the bishop said. She said she did not know if the matter had been taken to Makgoba as a way of appeal before the threat of going to secular courts was utilised.  She further mentioned that the cathedral, through an uncanonical vestry meeting, came to a decision not to collect any church offering and to withhold the assessment that was deposited into the diocesan office, which funds (comprising tithes and offerings) were utilised to pay the pension fund of the retiring and deceased priests.

She stated that, according to their regulations, Rev Nhlanhla was not supposed to be paid his salary for the withholding of an assessment by his parish, but the wardens allegedly forcefully demanded the payment of the stipend of Reverend Nhlanhla by allegedly going to the extent of even harassing the diocesan staff by calling them after work from 8pm in the still of the night. The bishop alleged that this was despite that the stipend funds had been deposited into Rev Nhlanhla’s account without fail at the same time of the month.


“As we write this letter, despite the blackmail tactic using God’s money, Rev Dlamini is receiving his stipend without fail,” alleged the bishop. She said they continued to consult with the wardens and went through the canons and noted that the request by the congregants was not feasible, as doing so would have invoked a charge of discipline against the bishop. It was further her submission that, in the midst of their engagement, the wardens allegedly later demanded that people from the cathedral should be appointed into the various Boards of the diocese yet  they were elected into such Boards and the Synod delegates elected theirs in the Synod of 2022, through free and fair elections.

She highlighted that she was not even the electoral officer. “The wardens decided to lead a march to the office of the bishop on April 23, 2023, at around 3pm, with very young children on tow and others being carried by their mothers to deliver a petition that they want Rev Dlamini to remain Rector for life in the Cathedral, knowing very well that we were not present at home. They returned on April 26, 2023 under the cover of darkness after 7pm to deliver a petition, which we received and they left as soon as we asked that we pray after naming the task team and delivering the terms of reference,” she stated. Bishop Dalcy said it was worth stating that they did not pray even on April 23, 2023, despite inviting the press to her residence.