Pretoria today, Pretoria tomorrow?

It is possible that Pretoria will not be renamed Tshwane, Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan said in Cape Town on Thursday.

He said he was still awaiting a recommendation in favour of the re-naming from the South African Geographical Names Council.

“There is a possibility that I won’t accept the advice by the council. As yet no recommendations have been given and what I know is what you know and read in the papers.”

Jordan was speaking after meeting a delegation from the Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Front Plus, the trade union Solidarity union and the Gauteng North Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI).

They implored him to retain the name Pretoria.

Jordan said he would only make up his mind after receiving the recommendations of the council.

The decision would be taken after much consideration during which he would try and ensure that no single community would feel estranged and left out of the process.

“Let people be calm. As we talk here, the official name remains Pretoria and will be Pretoria tomorrow,” he said.

Presentations were made by the various groups forming the Pretoria Community Action Forum in which they argued against the name change.

“As far as the business chamber is concerned the biggest hurdle around the name change matter is the cost factor,” said GNCCI head, Wim du Plessis.

He said the total cost of renaming the country’s legislative capital would amount to more than R1,5-billion and that was not taking “hidden costs” into consideration.

The move would cost the National Roads Agency R10-million to change sign boards and would cost the SA Weather Service R100 000.

“Don’t forget the map makers,” interjected Jordan.

Du Plessis added that the move would directly set small businesses back R40 000, medium sized businesses R200 000 and large businesses more than R400 000.

And these costs would have to be carried by somebody, he said, adding that 95% of GNCCI members were against the name change.

DA MP Desiree van der Walt said her concern was that the decision process had not been done legally and was driven by political and not cultural motives.

Solidarity spokesperson Kallie Kriel said the proposed name change flew in the face of popular demand.

It touched on cultural and emotional sensitivities and the mayor and councillors had approached the situation as a group of people wishing to conquer another.

“The mayor probably feels that he and his party emerged as ‘victors’ from the pre-1994 struggle and that there is no need to consult the ‘vanquished’,” Kriel said. - Sapa

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