Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor Chippa Ngcolomba surprised church leaders today when he made an unscheduled appearance at a church workshop and asked if the muncipality could join the churches in a city upliftment initiative.
The church leaders at the workshop were undergoing training by development analyst Professor Deon Pretorius, to empower them to interpret socio-economic data in order to make informed decisions while tackling socio-ecomomic challenges in their wards.
“We noticed your advertisement [about the workshop] in the newspaper and realized that this is important,” Ngcolomba said after the church leaders granted his request to address the meeting at Victory Ministries International. Earlier, representatives of the Mayor’s Office made a surprise appearance at the meeting and conveyed the Deputy Mayor’s request to address the workshop later.
In his address, Ngcolomba, who is also regional chairman of the African National Congress, said: “We appreciate that the church takes initiative to play their role in society and to assist people to improve their quality of life. We support what you are doing.
“The Mayor decided to form a team and request[ed us] to come here and you agreed. We are here to support your efforts. We acknowledge that we cannot do everything and that we have to form partnerships.
“We understand that you have done an analysis of wards. We ask you to share this analysis with us so that we can use it to allocate our budget where it is most needed. We want to work with you on this. This is not just lip service, we want to partner with you and make our contribution to this process.”
Trevor Jennings, co-ordinator of Transformation Christian Network (TCN), which has been driving an initiative to allocate church-linked task teams to the metro’s 60 wards, said the Deputy Mayor’s action today was “a breakthrough”.
Since May, church leaders have been trying, without success, to meet with the Executive Mayor, Ben Fihla, to discuss political tensions in the metro which have been hampering municipal service delivery. In June Fihla sent church leaders a letter inviting them to partner the municipality in tackling local issues. But he subsequently failed to keep a meeting with the churchmen on June 24. The church leaders hope to meet the Mayor at a rescheduled meeting on July 19.