Attempts by the government to change the name of Pretoria will result in “mass protests” during the 2010 World Cup, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) said on Tuesday.
The name change, from Pretoria to Tshwane, by the African National Congress-led government, was “underhanded and politically naive”, said FF+ leader Pieter Mulder.
“Does the ANC really think that it is possible to change the name of the capital city of South Africa on the sly, without vehement opposition?” he asked.
“The result will be mass protests and court cases during the world soccer tournament and soccer games.”
ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu criticised Mulder’s comments and threats of protests and legal cases.
“They are not just irresponsible, but inflammatory and unpatriotic.”
Mulder said that the name “Pretoria” was “internationally known” and changing it would “create huge confusion with foreign soccer supporters who now suddenly will have to attend soccer matches in Tshwane”.
The FF+ leader said that his party was considering legal action and promised to take the matter directly to President Jacob Zuma.
Sokutu said that name changes were done within a legal framework and were part of the ANC’s agenda for transformation.
“Any name change of a city, town or public building is done in compliance with legal requirements.
“Whatever name change is done in terms of the transformation of the ANC, it has to reflect the progressive change from apartheid to democracy,” said Sokutu.
Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum has also decried the proposed name change and promised protests during the World Cup.
“This organisation also intends to launch major protest actions before, during and after the Soccer World Cup if the name were to be changed,” AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said.
AfriForum is currently pursuing a legal action regarding the changing of street names in Pretoria.
The issue of formally changing the name of Pretoria recently came to the fore when the Department of Arts and Culture published the city’s geographical name to that of its municipal name, “Tshwane”, in the Government Gazette. — Sapa