FF+ grumbles about Pretoria's street-name changes

At total of 27 street names in Pretoria’s central business district will be changed to reflect a “shared heritage”, the City of Tshwane said on Thursday.

“This is so that we may create a new African capital city reflecting a shared heritage, identity and destiny,” said council speaker Khorombi Dau.

“Given the history of the city and how some of the streets were named, it is imperative to change some offensive names which still reflect a colonial and apartheid past,” he said.

At its ordinary meeting on September 27 2007 the city council passed a resolution on changing certain street names. In terms of section 155 (1)(a) of the Constitution the municipality had “exclusive municipal executive and legislative authority in its area”, Dau said.

“The naming of streets therefore falls within the jurisdiction of the municipality.”

He said the council saw the need to celebrate the country’s capital in a manner that included other cultures and languages. The process was intended reconstruct and transform the image of the city.

Dau said it had been suggested that the names of people who had contributed to the liberation struggle, the struggle for gender equality and cultural activists be used for new street names.

“The above criteria are not exclusive though.
Other criteria may be considered.”

The following streets had been identified for renaming: Pretorius, Schoeman, Van der Walt, Andries, DF Malan, Prinsloo, General Louis Botha, Skinner, Church, Leah Mangope, Lucas Mangope, Jacob Mare, Walker/Charles, Queen Wilhelmina Ave, Mears/Beatrix/Voortrekker, Hendrik Verwoerd, Hans Strydom, Mitchell, Esselen, Vermeulen, Schubart, Potgieter, Paul Kruger, Proes, Michael Brink, Duncan and Zambezi.

A public participation process on the matter would begin in October.

The Freedom Front Plus called the proposed name changes an act of aggression against minorities.

In a statement, FF Plus chairperson Willie Spies said: ” The announcement that the council is planning to change the names of streets in the city centre, is an act of aggression against the Afrikaner community of Pretoria.”

Spies said a proposal to change names was announced each time the African National Congress faced a new service-delivery crisis.

“To bully minorities and import meaningless name changes is the oldest trick in the book of a government which has absolutely no creative solutions for the country’s problems.”

FF+ chairperson of the metro council Conrad Beyers—who is a member of the municipal place-name committee—said the committee had not discussed the matter.

“That is indicative of the mayor’s attitude of bad faith, that the city council announces its plans with regards to street names before the municipal place-name committee has been consulted about it,” he said. - Sapa