UPDATE/ANNOUNCEMENTS as at 08.11.10

Those who want the name of Grahamstown to be changed have rallied themselves again after lying-low for the past couple of years. That was since the chairperson of the Makana Naming Task Team (NTT), Councillor Julie Wells, announced in September 2008 that then Mayor, Phumelelo Kate, had “taken the issue back”.

You may recall that her announcement followed a “public consultation campaign” conducted by the NTT after it had already twice previously extended its deadline for submissions on the issue and avoided making a decision on the matter as it was supposed to have done. The reason was obvious: from the outset those wanting the name change only had one outcome in mind and because the KGG’s submission was the only substantial one submitted to the NTT and clearly showed that public opinion was in favour of keeping the name, they had to avoid dealing with it.

We considered the announcement a victory of sorts but we didn’t declare one because we knew those wanting the name change were only re-grouping to have another attempt at it.

Then on 6.6.10 the Daily Dispatch published an interview published with the newly appointed chairperson of the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee (ECGNC) , Adv Loyiso Mpumlwana, making it clear that the name Grahamstown was still a prime target for a change. He implied that anyone not in favour of changing the name Grahamstown was “resisting transformation”, a charge we reject.

The ECGNC has made it known since as early as August 2008 that it wants to change all colonial names throughout the Eastern Cape and that the name Grahamstown heads a list of a “dirty dozen” such names.

We have always maintained that the ECGNC and the Makana Municipality are in cahoots as regards the proposed Grahamstown name change and that the municipality is actually doing the ECGNC’s bidding in pushing for the name-change. Once again we’ve been proved to be correct.

In another article in the Daily Dispatch of 15.10.10, Ms Wells announced that the issue was “far from over” and that an announcement could be expected “very soon”. It’s a question of adjusting to new key roleplayers and lines of discussion”, she said, in obvious reference to Adv Mpumlwana and his new ECGNC.

Then on 2.10.10, also in the Daily Dispatch, Adv Mpumlwana, who suddenly claimed to be “impartial” on the question of name changes, mentioned that he had received a submission from “a community who are pushing for the change of the name of Grahamstown”.

Enquiries revealed that Ms Wells was one of the “community” and when confronted with the fact she disclosed that Adv Mpumlwana had met with the Makana Mayoral Committee and that they made a submission to him based on the outcome of the “very extensive public consultation campaign.”

This was a reference to the same campaign conducted in 2008 before the announcement that the issue had been “taken back”, and the outcome of that campaign was very definitely not in favour of the name change. The contrary was in fact true hence the NTT was never convened to make a decision on the matter.

The municipality was constrained to issue a public statement to explain how the Mayoral Committee had taken it upon itself to pronounce that the outcome of the “public consultation process” favoured the name change.

This it did in the Daily Dispatch of 4.11.10, claiming that public opinion was “overwhelmingly opposed to keeping the name Grahamstown”.

As KGG we refute that claim and in a statement of our own in the Daily Dispatch of 5.11.10 we asked the question why, if the claim was true, the Makana Municipality has waited more than two years to announce the fact?

The claim is based on “edited video material” of the public meetings conducted by the NTT in April 2008. One such meeting was held in the BB Zondani Hall on 10.4.08 about which our local newspaper, the Grocott’s Mail carried a report headlined “Name Change an Issue of the Past” with a photograph captioned: “POOR SHOW…The poor attendance at the Grahamstown name change imbizo at the B B Zondani Hall on Thursday evening resulted in rows of empty chairs.”

That was typical of what happened at most, if not all, of the scheduled meetings held in April 2008, some of which were postponed or never materialised.

And we’ve yet to be given an opportunity to view the “edited video material” the veracity of which we question.

In the Makana Municipality’s same statement of 4.11.10, it’s announced that a “new Name Change Task Team (NCTT)” will take over the video footage from the “old NCTT” whereafter it will be made available to the public.

It’s also stated that the “old NCTT” was “dissolved” after a change of political leadership in the municipality in 2009 – a reference to the replacement of the former Mayor, Phumelelo Kate, by the current Mayor Vumile Lwana on 18.6.09.

There are a number of problems with this statement. Firstly there never was an “old NCTT”. It was the Makana Municipality Naming Task Team (NTT). Secondly, it never was “dissolved”.

Councillor Michael Whisson, a member of the “old” NTT, has written to the ECGNC advising it that the NTT has never completed its work and that the Mayoral Committee was out of line in making any submission on the outcome of the public consultation process before it has done so.

He also attempted to move the following at a Special Council meeting on 26.10.10:

“Motion of exigency:

This Council Noting

1. That the final report of the Naming Task Team (NTT) has not been submitted to the members of the Task Team for approval – nor to the Mayoral Executive Committee or Council with recommendations for ratification.

2. That according to a report in the Daily Dispatch of 25th October 2010, the chairman of the Eastern Cape Geographical Naming Committee (ECGNC), Adv. Mpumlwana had been “approached by a community that was pushing for the change of name for Grahamstown” – which he has indicated represents the views of the Mayoral Executive Committtee.

Requests the Executive Mayor

1. To instruct the Chairperson of the Makana Naming Task Team to re-convene the Task Team in order that proper procedures may be followed before any statement is issued.
2. To withdraw any submission which has been made to the ECGNC in the name of Makana L.M.C. until the report of the Task Team has passed through the proper procedures and been approved by Council.

Proposed: Cllr M.G.Whisson
Seconded: Cllr X.G.Madyo”

The Council refused to entertain the motion because the rules no longer allow for motions of exigency!

All of these recent developments only confirm that the ECGNC and the Makana Municipality are determined to deliver on a predetermined outcome that the name Grahamstown be changed and are willing to manipulate the process to that end.

In our response to the statement by the Makana Municipality as published in the Daily Dispatch of 4.11.10 we wrote the following, as published in the DD of 5.11.10: “Neither the Makana Mayoral Committee nor the ECGNC should be under any illusions regarding our determination that a change [of the name of Grahamstown] can only be effected if indeed it is an honest reflection of the freely-expressed views of the community which stands to be most affected by such change and if it is the true outcome of a process which has not been manipulated.”

In fairness to ourselves and all the supporters of the KGG we will not be diverted from that position and will continue to expose the machinations of those pushing for the name change.

We continue to rely on your support and request that you also email your opinions on the issue directly to Adv Mpulmwana of the ECGNC (kbc2@worldonline.co.za) and to the Makana Municipality (matebeset@makana.gov.za). Please also send a copy of your emails to ourselves at info@keepgrahamstown.co.za so that they can be included in whatever further submission we make in due course.

JOCK McCONNACHIE and SIGIDLA NDUMO

“Makana + Grahamstown = Reconciliation/Rekonsiliasie/Luxolelwaniso”