Civil society coalition tells Nelson Mandela Bay councillors days of ‘winner take all’ are over

Members of the Nelson Mandela Bay Civil Society Coalition,from left, Denise van Huyssteen, Mike Smith, Neville Goldman (NMB Civil Society vice-chairman), Mongameli Peter (NMB Civil Society chairman), Ben Fihla and Moyisile Tyutyu.

A broad-based civil society group which aims to tackle municipal chaos in Nelson Mandela Bay held separate virtual meetings on Tuesday with leaders of major political parties whose ongoing power struggles have rendered the metro incapable of delivering basic services to communities and businesses.

The two meetings followed a press release on Monday announcing that the state of dysfunctionality in Nelson Mandela Bay has “reignited” the Nelson Mandela Bay Civil Society Coalition, a multi-stakeholder group with strong Church representation, to take action. The coalition first got together in 2014 to address instability in the metro at that time.

Trevor Jennings of the Nelson Mandela Bay Church Leadership Network and a steering committee member of the coalition told Gateway News that the meetings went well and both the ANC and DA groups they met accepted their message that “the days of winner take all are over” and that their “power mongering comes at the expense of delivering services”.

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He said the coalition tabled proposals for a way ahead that emphasises reconciliation and which takes the focus off politicians and prioritises citizens. He said they agreed to meet again as soon as possible after the Easter weekend. The political attendees included senior councillors and provincial leaders.

Jennings said that since news of the re-emergence of the coalition broke this week they have had many phone calls from organisations and individuals wanting to be part of it. “There is such a feeling that it is not just important but there is serious urgency in dealing with this [municipal crisis],” he said.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Civil Society Coalition is led by Monga Peter, of the South African NGO Coalition as chairman and Pastor Neville Goldman of the Nelson Mandela Bay Church Leadership Network as deputy chairman.

Organisations which are represented in the coalition include the Nelson Mandela Bay Church Leader
Network, South African Council of Churches, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, National African
Federal Chamber of Commerce, Nelson Mandela University, South African National Coalition, South
African NGO Coalition, NAFA Sport, Community Policing Board, Master Builders Association, South
African Civic Organisation, Senior Citizens Association and the South Africa Property Owners
Association. Additional representative organisations are mooted to also join the coalition over the
next few weeks.

Peter says: “The situation [in the municipality] has become untenable. It has caused the collapse of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and even more concerning, our metro is now at high risk of poverty and unemployment levels further escalating.”

In its charter, the group has focused on adopting shared common values which are aimed at putting the
best interests of the metro, its stakeholders and residents.

“We represent a united voice and in our mandate are guided by a need to uphold the highest ethical
standards. While we will be dealing with many socio and political challenges, however, we remain
apolitical and have no affiliation to any political formation,” says Peter.

He emphasises that the group will adopt an aligned positioning on identified issues to ensure consistency of advocacy and lobbying efforts, while driving positive actions which will help to get the metro working again.

“We intend forming strong partnerships with key stakeholders and valued citizens of the metro to ensure that we all work towards a shared vision of resurging our city so that it can begin to work again.

“Achieving stability at a political and council level is key in ensuring delivery of services to communities and getting economic stability is in place so that much needed jobs can be retained and created,” he said.

In a message to local churches today the NMB Church Leadership calls for the following actions from churches and congregants:

  • Let us continue to pray for an urgent solution to the crisis
  • Council members and officials sit in our pews, many of them are members of our congregations. Please urge them to put the interest of the metro before narrow party-political interests
  • Engage your local councillor and invite him/her to your church. Pray for them, bless them, and urge them to follow Christ’s example of servant leadership.

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