Church leaders in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) have requested a meeting with the re-elected regional chairman of the African National Congress, Nceba Faku, to discuss the “culture of recalling” elected leaders, and the possible ousting of the Executive Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile.
The church leaders’ request, made in a letter that was delivered to Faku on Tuesday, follows months of tensions between the chairman and the mayor and their supporters, that has caused a serious disruption of service delivery in the metro. Faku has made it clear that he wants to replace Mayor Wayile. And in a further development in the strained local political environment, labour Federation Cosatu has cut ties with the ANC leadership in Nelson Mandela Bay pending the outcome of a dispute over the legitimacy of the recently elected local ANC executive.
According to one of the church leaders involved in approaching Faku, a broadly representative group of NMB church leaders are seeking to respond holistically to the local political crisis with the hope of getting services back on track as soon as possible. He said they were not taking sides in the dispute. They did however want to seek clarity from Faku on the disruptive practice of recalling officials before they had completed their terms, as was the case with the previous Executive Mayor Nondumiso Maphazi.
In October 2011, at a citywide prayer rally at the Nelson Mandela Bay Soccer Stadium, church leaders of the metro agreed that the sin of divison was the root iniquity that held back the city from fulfilling God’s purposes. They joined thousands of local Christians in repenting of disunity in all spheres of the local community. The Executive Mayor attended the rally and since then a small group of Christian leaders have prayed with him on a weekly basis. The current bid by church leaders to meet with Faku should be seen in the light of their commitment to pursue unity in the city.
The letter that was handed to Faku is signed by Anglican Archdeacon Zwelidumile Tom, but it states that the request is made on behalf of a group of leaders that includes the chairpersons of the Nelson Mandela Bay Consultation of Christian Churches (NMBCCC), the Council of Churches in the Metro, the Nelson Mandela Bay Transformation Christian Network, as well as the Bishops of the Anglican Church, The Methodist Church of SA and the Ethiopian Episcopal Church.
The letter proposes May 22, 29 or 30 as prospective meeting dates. In view of the regional ANC’s current preoccupation with centenary celebration arrangements culminating with the arrival of the centenary torch in the city on May 27, it is unlikely that a meeting will take place before the end of the month.