Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) church leaders and civic organisations are visiting city “hotspots” in search of a solution to an ongoing service delivery and unrest crisis in the metro.
Over a period of three weeks they plan to hold prayer and fact-finding meetings in the worst affected areas of the city say media spokesmen for a united front of NMB church leaders and civic society organisations.
The church spokesmen identify political disunity among the political leadership of the metro as the root cause of the crisis.
“God has been speaking to the leaders of the churches in the Metro, as well as Civic organizations, calling them to hear the cries of the people, and to seek peace and prosperity in all the communities that they serve. In some areas of the Metro, people are divided and are resorting to violence on one another out of frustration out of the lack of service delivery,” they say in a media release.
They say that church leaders have tried to initiate contact with political leaders “to find out why the threat of redeployment and instability in the Metro has not been addressed”.
“We have been frustrated by receiving no response to this request,” they say.
Church leaders have tried in vain to engage African National Congress regional chairman Nceba Faku about his repeated threats to redeploy NMB mayor Zanoxolo Wayile. Earlier this month Wayile and Faku publicly agreed to work together going forward in a public display aimed at quelling violence between Faku and Wayile factions in Motherwell township. But apparently the church leaders are not convinced by the truce and hence are stepping up their efforts to find a solution to the crisis in the city. Recently Bishop Lunga ka Siboto addressed the NMB City Council and challenged city leaders to commit themselves to peace and stability. He was accompanied by a strong contingent of city church leaders.
In its media release announcing the “hot spots” visting campaign that started in Motherwell on Monday (September 17), the church leaders said that the Church in South Africa had become ineffective and silent since 1994.
“During the Apartheid years the church was vocal and active in her stance in opposing what was a system of oppression, but became silent after 1994 out of deference for the new political leaders of the country, most of whom had their formation in missionary schools, and who displayed integrity and high moral values.
“However, with the passage of time, new leaders have come to the fore, who do not seem to have the same moral attitude and mindset, and for many greed and power seem more important than the people they are meant to serve, especially the poorest of the poor. In spite of well articulated intentions, these intentions are often not played out in practice.”
Explaining the rationale for its programme of prayer and fact-finding visits, the church leaders say they want to acquaint themselves with the facts and hope to do all that they can to promote lasting peace and harmony in the metro.
They say they intend to visit every area in the metro, but are starting with the “hot spots”.
“We would call on the affected communities to join us in prayer for the Metro in this troubled time, and to work with us towards peace and prosperity for all.”
The following is a schedule of meetings to take place:
1. Motherwell Ward 54: Monday 17th at 4 pm
Ward 57: Tuesday 18th at 4 pm
Ward 23: Wednesday 19th September at 4 pm
2. Uitenhage Ward 43: Monday 24th at 4 pm
Ward 44: Tuesday 25th at 4 pm
Ward 45: Wednesday 26th at 4 pm
Ward 46: Thursday 27th September at 4 pm
3. Chatty: Monday 1st October at 4pm
4. KwaZakhele Ward 19: Tuesday 2nd October at 4pm
5. Walmer Gqebera: Wednesday 3rd October at 4 pm
The media release is signed: The Most Reverend Lunga ka Siboto, the Right Reverend Bethlehem Nopece, Pastor Neville Goldman. and Dominee Danie Mouton. Media spokespersons on behalf of Church leaders in the Metro and Civic Society Organisations.
Scripture references in the media statement are:
Jeremiah 29:7 (Today’s New International Version)
7 …seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Luke 4:18-19 (Today’s New International Version)
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”