The Church has an important role to play in a “new struggle” in South Africa against the abuse of power by elected leaders, say Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Church leaders.
In a strongly-worded joint statement ahead of the May 7 national election, the church leaders “give notice” of their intent to “become more assertive as the church” in the NMB metro and to “encourage other sectors” to join in the struggle on behalf of society as a whole.
“We do note that much has been done in the past 20 years to address the needs of our people, but that which was done that is good has been overwhelmed by the tsunami of systemic corruption and maladministration which is robbing our people of their future and their dignity.
“Government is not meeting the expectations of our people and the role of the church has become more important than ever,” says the statement.Referring to the former struggle against apartheid, the church leaders say there is now a “struggle against corruption, maladministration and incompetence that contributes to lack of service delivery, education, health and unemployment”.
“We believe that the church has a role and responsibility to guard ordinary people against abuse of power and to be an active force in the pursuit of a more just and inclusive society,” they say.
Broad areas of concern highlighted by the leaders are an excessive concentration of power in the hands of a power elite that has rendered them untouchable and unaccountable; the mariginalization and passivity of other spheres of society including business and civil society; centralization of political power that promotes self-serving leadership and local communities; and political interference in the work of watch-dog agencies.
“We intend becoming more assertive as a stakeholder in this city and we believe that systematic, coherent and well-informed action by all non-political agencies of society will be in the interest of all. Thus, we will seek and promote constructive partnerships towards joint action for a better society,” says the statement.
The leaders say all Christian denominations in the Metro are being mobilized “into a force that could make a real difference in the quality of life of people. Our action will be organized within the Ward system and we will work with communities and their leaders to identify the real issues and to enable appropriate action.”
“We as a church will keep governance of our city accountable to the Integrated Development Plan, the Budget and measure the deliverables accordingly. Our key objective is accountability.
“We have already started our action by enhancing our knowledge and those of our communities with good quality information to improve insight, awareness and the quality of the collective conscience of our communities to become more resilient, pro-active and self-reliant. We will actively work towards strategies and plans to promote socio-economic development at a community level throughout our Metro,” they say.
The joint statement is signed by:
Bishop Lunga ka Siboto: Presiding Bishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church
Bishop Bethlehem Nopece: Bishop of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Bishop Musi Losaba: Bishop of the Grahamstown District of the Methodist Church of South Africa
Pastor Neville Goldman: Senior Pastor Ebenezer
Reverend Danie Mouton: Executive Director: DRC Eastern Cape
Pastor Patrick Douglas-Henry: Regional Leader of AFM Church in Eastern Cape
Archdeacon Zwelidumile Tom: Secretary of Metro Council of Churches & Convenor of NMBCCC
Pastor Mvusi Gwam: Chairperson of Transformation Christian Network.