Religious heads gather in bid to get Bay political parties to act in interests of the people
In a desperate bid to solve the impasse in the Nelson Mandela Bay council, church leaders from across the metro will extend an invitation to political parties and act as mediators.
The resolution was taken at a meeting in City Hall yesterday where 42 church leaders thrashed out ways to intervene and remind the politicians of what was at stake – service delivery.
Nearly a week since the last council meeting was adjourned after it failed to achieve a quorum, the religious fraternity has expressed concern with the state of governance in the metro.
Word of Faith pastor Jimmy Crompton, who called the meeting, said he hoped the religious fraternity would tell politicians to “grow up and act maturely”.
“We need our city to be run properly and we have to do something that will make the politicians remember our people,” he said.
“I am sinking in despair with what is happening in this country.
“Councillors have the democratic right to disagree, but they have the responsibility to attend council which is what they are being paid for.”
The pastors, reverends and one sheikh discussed points of action including sending a delegation to meet the entire council after engaging the various political parties.
A resolution was also taken that should the intervention be unsuccessful, the church leaders would seek to meet national party leaders, Mmusi Maimane, of the DA, and Bantu Holomisa, of the UDM.
Methodist Church of Southern Africa bishop Andile Mbete said it was critical for the leaders to act to form a movement that would move quickly.
“We hope to be in a position where we can say heads of church want to address the impasse in local government on behalf of the people; we want to remind them that they are not there for themselves.
“We do not want the metro to be governed as a result of the politics our mandate is not just to pray but to counsel and make demands in the name of God,” Mbete said.
Mbete was referring to a reported bid by the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay to have the city put under administration by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Fikile Xasa’s office.
Meanwhile, Bloemendal Word of Faith’s Frederick Blignaut said his biggest concern was the people in wards who were affected.
“Working in the northern areas has made me believe that the church is the community, and if the metro is not functioning it poses a threat to our communities.
“We need budget items to be passed or else our people will suffer, these politicians don’t realise the power of the church,” Blignaut said.
“The voters are in our churches and we influence them – we must come up with a plan,” he urged.
Bay mayor Athol Trollip said he would embrace any kind of intervention from any kind of leader.
“I have church leaders come to my office every Tuesday and I embrace their guidance to try and bring about a sense of commitment to putting people first in this municipality – we shouldn’t turn to religious leaders only when things are bad,” Trollip said.
Trollip, however, said getting councillors to attend council did not require prayer as they all received salaries.
“We have an obligation to do our work. What we need is guidance as to how we put the needs of the people of the city first.”
ANC leader in council, Bicks Ndoni, said they would also welcome any kind of intervention from religious leaders.
“The church’s intervention is very critical. We need to sit and assess the situation at the municipality,” Ndoni said.
He denied claims the ANC was considering approaching Cogta to put the city under administration.