A united front of Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) church leaders has called on the State President and other political leaders to take urgent action to resolve a major service delivery crisis in the metropole.
In an open letter to the national, provincial and local leaders, the church leaders say that corruption and division are the root causes of the crisis which is affecting and angering the poor and helpless citizens of the region.
The letter follows a recent spate of service delivery protests in local townships, notably in Walmer Township, where protests over a lack of housing and the failure to end the bucket system, have turned violent at times. Ongoing tension between the NMB African National Congress (ANC) Chairman Nceba Faku and the NMB Executive Mayor Wayile have taken the focus of service delivery, affecting most areas of service delivery.
The full text of the open letter, which is signed by a broadly representative forum of church leaders, reads:
Open Letter to:
The President of South Africa
The Provincial Government of the Eastern Cape
The Regional Structures of The ANC and all other Political Parties of the Eastern Cape
The Mayor and Local Government of The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro
The Concerned Churches of the Nelson Mandela Metropole
We as church leaders of the Metro met at St John’s Anglican Church in Walmer on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 to consider as a matter of urgency the crisis that is having an impact on our city.
We, the Church Leaders of the Nelson Mandela Metro, deeply aware of our own need for the grace of God, call upon each of you to resolve the crisis in which this city has found itself. This crisis is affecting the poor and helpless people of the city and thus we have to speak out to address this matter. Our clergy has had to intervene to deal with extremely angry communities, and we cannot remain silent whilst we know that the root causes are corruption and division.
We must state that we cannot accept the paralysis of service delivery due to division and corruption in our city.
We call upon the whole civil society to mobilise to resolve this crisis.
We take note that virtually all of the public sectors of the City have experienced a major breakdown in functioning, leading to a drastic drop in service delivery.
The education of our children and the leadership over this in the province are in a crisis and our provincial leadership is in denial about this.
The health system has broken down to the point where many of our people refuse to use public hospitals and facilities for fear of their lives.
The basic provision of municipal services has broken down because of political conflict for control of the Metro. It has become apparent to us that the conflict is between those trying to provide municipal services and those trying to use the structures for purposes of making money by corrupt means.
The police cannot function at times, because they are trapped between the opposing forces of political camps. This is resulting in a risk of instability in our communities.
We as a city are aware that the internal conflict has paralysed the functioning of public matters to the degree that it is driving away the very investment that we need in the city to deal with the unemployment and poverty with which our people are struggling. Opportunities for investment in infrastructure from the budget of the National Treasury are being missed because of the political division.
The very organs of the city that are in place to resolve corruption are being paralysed by forces that seek to prevent corruption from being brought to book.
As Church leaders of this city we cannot allow this state of affairs to continue, and we call upon you to reconcile and resolve the matter, as well as remove all opportunities for the systemic corruption that is preventing everyone in the city from being able to create a better life for all.
It is our mandate to reconcile people to God and to one another. We as the Church served to play a major role in the reconciliation that led to the democracy we all enjoy. Just as we did this in bringing about the smooth transition of the democracy we have, we continue to offer ourselves to persist in resolving the issues that affect us all. We assure you that we are committed to the city to be a part of the solution.
We therefore call upon the leadership of all political parties to meet with us as soon as possible to begin a process of urgently resolving this crisis.
We commend you to the grace of God.
Please contact any one of the following Pastors: Mvusi Gwam (firstname.lastname@example.org); Zweli Tom (email@example.com); Neville Goldman (firstname.lastname@example.org); Patrick Douglas-Henry (email@example.com) to commence the process.
Rt. Rev. Brendan Deenihan, (Apostolic Administrator, Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth)
Bishop Lunga ka Siboto (Presiding Bishop: Ethiopian Episcopal Church);
Reverend Jonathon Hobson (Methodist Church);
Bishop Richard Magxwalisa (Arch Bishop: Jerusalem Church in SA);
Bishop Bethlehem Nopece (Anglican Diocese );
Bishop Nkosinathi Vika (Presiding Bishop: Ethiopian Charismatic Church);
Pastor Braam Botha (Doxa Deo);
Pastor Sharon Connelly (Korsten/Schauder Ministers Fraternal);
Pastor Jimmy Crompton (Word of Faith Christian Centre);
Pastor Mvusi Gwam (AE); (Chairperson TCN)
Pastor Patrick Douglas-Henry (Apostolic Faith Mission of SA);
Pastor Neville Goldman (Ebenezer Centre);
Pastor Mac Hayward (Westering Full Gospel);
Pastor Jerome Liberty (Victory Ministries International);
Dominee Danie Mouton (NG Kerk);
Pastor Dave Pedersen (Fountain Vineyard Christian Church);
Pastor Richard Preston (New Covenant Church);
Pastor Daan Botha (Harvest Christian Church);
Reverend Rory Spence (Central Cape Presbyterian);
Reverend Nzimane Jita (Central Cape Presbyterian);
Pastor Theo Williams (Congregational Church)
Archdeacon Zweli Tom (Chairperson of NMBCCC) (Secretary SACC)
Pastor Gill Bowman (Secretary of NMBCCC)
Pastor Afrika Mhlophe (Goodnews Church)
Reverend Daniel Tamboer (Moravian Church of South Africa)
Pastor Mark Upman (SCC)
Pastor John Scholtz (Harvest Christian Church)