With more than 10 congregations in every ward of Nelson Mandela Bay, pastors and congregants can make a real difference in restoring services to the metro, says the NMB Church Leader Network (NMBCLN) in an email appeal to local church leaders.
“We encourage all our church leaders to team up with their local ward councillors in order to tackle service delivery problems in their wards,” says the appeal, which is accompanied by a practical plan of action and contact details of local councillors, emergency services, radio stations and churches.
The circular informs pastors that the NMBCLN has joined forces with a multi-stakeholder group made up of representatives from diverse organisations and backgrounds who have a common goal of serving citizens by driving solutions to address the many challenges facing the metro — including a high risk that 40% of citizens will have no water in their taps within days due to drought and municipal mismanagement.
“The Christian Church, which collectively makes up the largest network of people in our metro, has been approached by our partners to assist in addressing the collapse of service delivery in NM Bay,” says the circular.
Outlining a plan of action, the circular states: “The first step will be to invite all the church leaders and their congregants in each ward to become members of their ‘ward service delivery team’.
“Encourage your congregants to join or form active ward, suburb or street WhatsApp groups.
“Congregants and pastors can become involved immediately by spotting and reporting service delivery problems as and when you see them – water leaks, illegal dumping, streetlights that do not work, potholes, missing drain covers are just some of the problems that should be reported to the municipality.
“The second step is for each church leader to make contact with their own ward councillor to inform them of the intervention by the Church to ensure that services are delivered.
“The third step will be to familiarize ourselves on how to report service problems to the appropriate municipal call centre with a copy to the relevant ward councillor. (See attachment for contact information.)
“We are well aware that ward councillors and municipal staff receive lucrative remuneration packages for the sole purpose of delivering municipal services.
“It is essential that we don’t allow our requests to get ‘stuck’ in non-functional call centres.
“Share the reference number provided by the municipality with your ward councillor and appoint members of the congregation to follow up with the ward councillor and municipality on a weekly basis until the problem is addressed.
“Make use of local radio stations, as well as social media to put pressure on the municipality and councillor to do their jobs properly.
“The following problem areas are the primary focus:
- Water supply/leaks.
- Sewage collection & disposal.
- Refuse removal.
- Electricity supply.
- Roads & storm water drainage.
- Street lighting.
- Parks and recreation facilities.
- Incidents of corruption – bribery, theft, etc.
“The success of this initiative will depend on the extent to which Church Leaders like you are willing to get involved, encourage other Church leaders and their congregants in their municipal wards to become “SPOTTERS” of our service delivery problems.
“With God on our side, we will succeed.”
The circular is signed by Bishop Jacob Freemantle: Methodist Church of SA (William Kama Synod), Dominee Danie Mouton, director Synod Eastern Cape DRC; Apostle Neville Goldman, Ebenezer International; Bishop Thandolwethu Gebengana, chairperson Religious Leaders Desk and Reverend Canon Themba Mahuwa, chairperson SACC, NMB Metro Branch.
In response to an inquiry from Gateway News about the Church-led service delivery campaign, Trevor Jennings of the NMBCLN said: “At last the Church is stepping forward with its moral authority and leading the charge and change.
“We are motivated by Jesus’ prayer “ Thou Kingdom come”. What do people understand by that phrase. I believe it means we must strive through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit to replace evil with good!! We must have the guts to stand up for what we believe will bring joy, happiness and peace to our city.
“People know who we are and what we stand for so let us evangelise through servicing others by striving to bring His Kingdom on earth now.”
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