Mayor’s plans for Makhanda

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By SUE MACLEN­NAN

Makana Mayor Nomhle Gaga has wel­comed the change of the city’s name from Gra­ham­stown to Makhanda and says the mu­nic­i­pal­ity will con­duct pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions to unite res­i­dents around it.

This week Min­is­ter of Arts and Cul­ture Nathi Mthethwa an­nounced that he had made his fi­nal de­ci­sion on the gazetted name change of Gra­ham­stown to Makhanda. In a me­dia re­lease, Mthethwa said that fol­low­ing a “thor­ough, as­sid­u­ous and painstak­ing process” he had found no just cause to with­draw the no­tice pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette on 29 June 2018.

“As such the procla­ma­tion as pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette in ques­tion stands.”

On 29 June 2018 Mthethwa pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette No 41738 the ap­proval of “Gra­ham­stown” to “Makhanda” af­ter re­ceiv­ing rec­om­men­da­tion from the South African Geo­graph­i­cal Names Coun­cil (SAGNC).

The Min­istry of Arts and Cul­ture said it had re­ceived 332 com­plaints ob­ject­ing to the name change, cit­ing rea­sons in­clud­ing the claim that the Gov­ern­ment Gazette on the 29 June 2018 was de­fec­tive be­cause it “…did not state the fact that the pub­lic have one month to ob­ject or com­plain to the Min­is­ter on his 29 June 2018 de­ci­sion”.

Other rea­sons en­tailed com­plaints re­gard­ing lack of con­sul­ta­tion “i.e. process, his­tor­i­cal sen­ti­ment and nos­tal­gia, and cost im­pli­ca­tions of the name change among other rea­sons”.

“It has been the Min­istry’s stated po­si­tion… that any no­tice that per­tains to ge­o­graphic name changes is not pub­lished in iso­la­tion but is meant to be read with the “South African Geo­graph­i­cal Names Act, 1998” (Act 118 of 1998), “Pro­mo­tion of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Jus­tice Act, 2000” (Act 3 of 2000) and the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Coun­try and the re­course in any ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ci­sion is clearly pro­vided for by all these au­thor­i­ta­tive guid­ing doc­u­ments,” the Min­is­ter said.

Mthethwa said let­ters ob­ject­ing to the gazetted name change had been ac­knowl­edged in writ­ing.

“Af­ter tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion com­plaints, the ad­vice of the SAGNC, and the au­thor­i­ta­tive doc­u­ments cited above, the Min­is­ter care­fully ap­plied his mind and took a fi­nal de­ci­sion,” Mthethwa said, and that as of Tues­day 2 Oc­to­ber 2018 he had for­mally be­gun re­spond­ing to ev­ery com­plainant in­form­ing them of his de­ci­sion.

“Min­is­ter wishes to Mthethwa now ad­vise mem­bers of the press that fol­low­ing this thor­ough, as­sid­u­ous and painstak­ing process he has found no just cause to with­draw the no­tice pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette on 29 June 2018 and as such the procla­ma­tion as pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette in ques­tion stands,” Mthethwa’s state­ment reads.

“The his­tor­i­cal sen­ti­ments and ar­gu­ments around her­itage val­ues were noted. While it is in­deed the De­part­ment of Arts and Cul­ture’s man­date to pro­mote and pre­serve our her­itage, we can­not al­low these sen­ti­ments to un­der­mine gov­ern­ment’s trans­for­ma­tional agenda on the coun­try’s her­itage land­scape. Stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of geo­graph­i­cal names form part of a broader gov­ern­ment trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme to­wards ad­dress­ing the im­bal­ances of the past, and it forms part of the sym­bolic repa­ra­tions as rec­om­mended by the ‘Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion.’”

In a state­ment re­spond­ing to the an­nounce­ment, the Keep Gra­ham­stown Gra­ham­stown (KGG) cam­paign main­tained that the no­tice was de­fec­tive be­cause it didn’t ad­vise South Africans that they had a month to ob­ject to the name change.

“It was only through the ef­forts of Keep Gra­ham­stown Gra­ham­stown (KGG) which has cam­paigned for the re­ten­tion of the name Gra­ham­stown since 2007 that peo­ple were made aware of the their right to ob­ject in terms of the rel­e­vant leg­is­la­tion and ob­ject they did,” the cam­paign said. “The KGG’S sub­mis­sion alone was on be­half of ap­prox­i­mately 10 000 in­di­vid­ual ob­jec­tors and many more ob­jec­tions were sub­mit­ted di­rectly to the of­fice of the Min­is­ter. “

They said they re­garded the change as un­law­ful and were con­fi­dent of a suc­cess­ful court chal­lenge.

Asked this week what plans she had to unite res­i­dents around the new name, the Mayor said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity would pop­u­larise the name by con­duct­ing pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions.

As for new sig­nage, an item on the new name would be tabled to Coun­cil and through In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Re­la­tions Fo­rum (IGR) dis­cus­sions plans would be made to change sig­nage in and around the city.

His­to­rian Julie Wells, who drove the change in its early stages, said, “Peo­ple who sup­port this name feel that it is one that re­stores the dig­nity of the African peo­ple, which is deeply im­por­tant. This view has been shared con­sis­tently ever since the name change de­bates started, so it is an ap­pro­pri­ate con­clu­sion.”

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