GRAHAMSTOWN RE-NAMING RE-OPENED – 31 May 2012

The last update on the Grahamstown re-naming issue was in November 2010 at which stage it appeared that the re-naming issue was about to be re-opened. (The announcement in that regard can be accessed in the “archive” section).

Nothing in fact materialised apart from sabre-rattling by the Eastern Cape Provincial Geographical Names Committee (ECPGNC) and the Chairperson of the Makana Municipality’s Naming Task Team (NTT), Councillor Julie Wells.

Suddenly, without any prior discussion or debate, the current Makana Mayor, Zamuxolo Peter, has this week announced that a further R250 000 is to be spent on re-naming over the next six months.

The only indication that anything was in the pipeline in that regard was a message conveyed by Councillor Wells that the “war” over the name would re-commence in April.

The timing of the re-opening of the name issue is not incidental.

2012 is Grahamstown’s 200th anniversary and we are presently in the midst of a programme of “observation” as the Makana Municipality prefers it to be known, rather than a celebration.

The announcement, however, runs counter to the spirit of the programme, which according to the Mayor was aimed at promoting unity in the community. Councillor Wells herself stated on national television on the occasion of the launch of the programme in February that although Grahamstown was born in conflict “we should not be stuck in the past and should rather concentrate on the good things that have come out of the place since then.”

The statements by the Mayor and Councillor Wells were refreshing as they were exactly in line with the approach to the name issue as consistently promoted by the KGG from its inception, namely that while not losing sight of our history, we should rather concentrate on the good things which the name of Grahamstown has come to be associated with rather than the bad.

Unfortunately, it now seems that the encouraging change of heart on the part of the Mayor and Councillor Wells has been short-lived and that we are going to be back where we started.

KGG has wasted on time in making it known that we do not intend to allow those who are so hell-bent on changing the name irrespective of public opinion to have things their own way.

We have written to Councillor Wells referring to the already protracted process which we have already been through on the issue the outcome of which was that the majority of opinion does not favour changing the name of Grahamstown but which she and the ECPGNC were not willing to accept. We have advised Councillor Wells that KGG will ensure that the public is reminded about the history of the machinations surrounding the matter in order to deliver a pre-determined outcome, namely that the name should be changed, irrespective of public sentiment.

KGG has also now written to Councillor Wells requesting information on the further process as now envisaged. We will publicise her reply as soon as it is received.

We have also issued a press statement calling on the Makana community “to reject the new process as an unnecessary waste of public money on an issue on which it has already expressed itself.” In the meantime, we request the nearly 6000 individuals from the Eastern Cape, the whole of South Africa and abroad who previously expressed themselves on the subject through KGG, to once again make their views known. This is essential because it is likely that our submission as previously compiled on the basis of those views will now be rejected as outdated.

In that regard, it should be remembered that our original submission was submitted to the Makana Municipality but was never considered by the NTT and was therefore taken back by us.

We are therefore still in possession of the all the relevant material and we will in due course be contacting each of those who submitted comments or who provided signatures.

KGG values and relies on your continued support to ensure that the name Grahamstown survives into the future.

We remain convinced that the positive associations of the name outweigh the bad and that changing the name will be counterproductive for all concerned.

Retaining the name Grahamstown alongside that of Makana is reconciliatory. Changing the name of Grahamstown will be an act of retribution not reconciliation.

“Makana + Grahamstown = Reconciliation/Rekonsiliasie/Luxolelwaniso”