frgavin on July 18th, 2011

George Cpmger in CofE Newspaper
14th July, 2011

The Bishop of Swaziland has been cleared of charges of financial misconduct. However, the Rt Rev Meshack Mabuza told members of the diocesan synod gathered on 9 July at the Thokoza Anglican Centre in Mbabne that he was standing down as bishop.

In 2010 the Rev Bhekubuhle Mbatha, vicar of St Augustine’s church in Mpaka filed charges against the bishop alleging misconduct. While the allegations were never made public, the Times of Swaziland reported that a “team of investigators” sent by the Archbishop of Cape Town were reviewing charges of “mismanagement of moneys” sent by the Dioceses of Brechin and Iowa.

Last week’s announcement clears the Bishop of the misconduct charges. The Bishop has declined to say, however, why he was stepping down.

The financial misconduct charges were only part of the Bishop’s worries. On the evening of 21 February, traffic officers from the Lobamba police station stopped the Bishop while he was driving along the Manzini-Mbabane freeway. The Bishop failed a breathalyzer test and arrested him for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Bishop Mabuza’s hearing was held in camera the following morning before the Mbabane Magistrate’s Court. While the outcome of the proceedings is not known, under Swazi law a first drink-driving arrest is most often punished by a fine and an admonishment.

The Bishop’s drink-driving arrest followed a February 2010 Swazi media storm centring round Anglicans and alcohol. Local newspapers had a field day when the bar bill for the Southern African House of Bishops meeting, which was held in Swaziland, was given to the press.

Asked to comment on the propriety of imbibing bishops, Bishop Mabuza told the Times of Swaziland the church does not require its clergy to be teetotalers but took a dim view of public intoxication. “To us, it is not a crime when you take alcohol, but getting drunk is a vice,” the Bishop explained.

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