PE church leaders meet over City Hall power struggles

Port Elizabeth’s City Hall.

Senior church leaders in Port Elizabeth held a special meeting today to discuss their grave concern at the repeated disruption of municipal service delivery in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) as a result of power struggles between local government political coalitions.

The battle for control of City Hall which has frequently overshadowed council business this year, made headlines this week with the controversial ousting of the DA’s Athol Trollip as Mayor of NMB through an EFF-led no-confidence motion on Monday.

The UDM’s Mongameli Bobani was elected Mayor on Monday, but Trollip, who has previously survived repeated attempts to unseat him, maintains he is still Mayor and has said he will challenge his ousting in court.

At today’s special meeting church leaders agreed to convene a lunchtime meeting tomorrow to be attended by church representatives from all of the clusters throughout Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch and the SA Council of Churches, as the next step in achieving a united strategy for dealing with the service delivery crisis which is hurting poor communities the most.

A few leaders would also call on the Municipal Manager tomorrow morning — “because we don’t know who the Mayor is” — to convey that they find the latest disruptions “totally unacceptable”, said Trevor Jennings of Transformation Christian Network who was at today’s leaders’ meeting.

He said it was possible that tomorrow’s Church strategy meeting will be followed by “mass meetings” throughout the metro.

“We really want to take a strong stance, this time. And we have to consult in order to mobilise the Church.

“It looks like the only thing that counts with politicians is losing votes,” he said.


  1. Hi Andre, for the sake of those readers who don’t reside in PE (and also for myself because I don’t follow the local news much) perhaps it would be good to clarify exactly what “the repeated disruption of municipal service delivery in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB)” is or has been since this chaos started last Friday. Many thanks.

    • Trevor Jennings

      If City Councillors are constantly wrestling for power and they spend most of their time & energy on no-confidence debates they can’t get through the service delivery items on the agenda that affect the daily lives of our people.

      • Yes Trevor I know, no-confidence debates and votes are part and parcel of politics, and it happens in every democratic country and city in the world. The DA, for better or worse depending on which side you are on, have initiated quite a few no-confidence debates themselves in the last few months or so. So unfortunately, this comes with democracy.
        My question was an innocent one – I was just a bit confused, that’s all. Since the chaos (the tale of two mayors’ chaos) happened last Friday, my garbage was removed as normal on Tuesday and when I visited the municipal office on Thursday to pay my rates, everything there seemed quite normal as well. The only municipal service lacking in my middle class life was a street lamp outside my house which had been off for a number of weeks now – a very trivial matter compared to what others may be experiencing, but my point being that I could hardly blame the new ANC led council for it. So let’s just say that I could not understand what these “latest disruptions” were which had ‘suddenly’ become “totally unacceptable”.
        Speaking to my friends (including those in the poorer Northern areas) I would say that we are in complete agreement that service delivery in our city has remained pretty constant over the last five years throughout various political party led councils. Some of us complain about that fact while others among us are nonchalant about it, but nevertheless we all agree – nothing has really changed. So if this small group of us are a true reflection of the whole then we have to conclude that the only real disruption that happened last Friday was to the DA political party. Yes, the only disruption for me and some of my white friends is now having to learn how to pronounce the new (or wannabe) mayor’s name.
        That’s how I lost my innocence in all this, because I find it astonishing that no church leaders (as far as I know) had a special meeting or confronted the Municipal Manager when the DA led council decided to “proudly” fly one of the world’s largest LGBT ‘Pride’ flags on the Donkin. Not a word from anyone (including Gateway) about this, and nobody came out publicly to defend ACDP councillor Lance Grootboom when he was ‘persecuted’ for objecting to it. The ACDP are on record as saying that “the decision to fly the flag, as well as the views in a statement put out on behalf of Nelson Mandela Bay, are the Democratic Alliance’s alone and not those of their coalition partners, which include the ACDP.” By the way, I have only ever voted for the ACDP once, and that was many years ago, so I’m not being politically partisan on this matter.
        I don’t want to sound like one of those hard-line, ultra-conservative, religious conspiracists, but maybe, just maybe, there is a connection in all of this.
        Notwithstanding the right of every Christian to vote and support any political party that they choose, or the responsibility of all of us to stand up against evil regardless, I believe most emphatically that the church as a body should show no favour to any political party,lest she loses her prophetic voice into national, regional or city governance.