“…But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And leaves me poor indeed. “
William Shakespeare. Othello
KEEP GRAHAMSTOWN GRAHAMSTOWN
c/o Equity House Chambers
101 High Street
21 November 2017
Eastern Cape Geographical Place Names Committee (ECGPNC)
ATTENTION : MS P NAZO-MAKATALA (c/o ThulileM@dac.gov.za)
RE : RESPONSE TO OBJECTIONS TO PROPOSED RENAMING OF GRAHAMSTOWN
Your email of 20 November 2017 and attached evendated letter refer.
Our reply is as follows:
- the response is outdated as it relates to a process that was conducted by a former ECGPNC almost two years ago and is made almost eighteen months since the closing of the deadline for the submission of objections. The ECGPNC as constituted at the time the objections were submitted and under whose auspices the ECGPNC’s process was conducted is therefore not the same ECGPNC as presently constituted and there is no indication of what the former ECGPNC’s response was to the objections or if the opinions expressed in the response of the present ECGPNC accords with those of the former ECGPNC under whose auspices the process was conducted.
- the response does not appear to be the response of the ECGPNC but rather the response of the writer thereof, Ms M P Nazo (whose full name is Ms M P Nazo-Makatala, a Buffalo City Municipal Councillor and a member of the Mayoral executive), in her capacity as the newly appointed Chairperson of the ECGPNC. It is to be noted that Ms Nazo-Makatala is an aggressive proponent of name change within the Buffalo City Municipality and that she holds strong personal views on name changes particularly as regards colonial names which is reflected in the response;
- the current ECGPNC was only appointed within the last several months and there is no indication in the response that the objections as submitted to the ECGPNC were considered by the members of the ECGPNC, whose identity is unknown, nor that the response represents the views of the members of the ECGPNC, nor that it was formally adopted by the ECGPNC. Considering that the new ECGPNC has only very recently been installed it is submitted that the numerous objections to the proposed name change could not have received proper consideration.
- the objection of Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown (KGG) was on behalf of the more than 5 000 persons whose individual opinions on the proposed name change were gathered during the previous three name change processes conducted by the Makana Municipality. The KGG was only a conduit for the expression of the views of the individual respondents the overwhelming majority of whom were not in favour of the proposed name change. The ECGNC also advised the KGG that it would have no regard to any submission from the KGG in a representative capacity but only to the views of individual objectors. It is therefore incumbent on the ECGPNC to respond to such submissions individually and not to deal with them as a single submission by the KGG;
- in addition to the KGG’s objection, numerous further individual submissions were submitted directly to the ECGPNC some of which were copied to the KGG in order for the KGG to monitor whether the views of such respondents were indeed taken into consideration by the ECGPNC. The KGG does not accept your response on their behalf and it is incumbent on the ECGPNC to respond directly to the individual objectors and to deal with the substance of their specific objections;
- the KGG is not an organisation as such. It was a campaign jointly organised and co-ordinated by myself and Mr Sigidla Ndumo in our personal capacities. Unlike the Grahamstown Residents Association (GRA), to which the KGG is not affiliated, we do not have “members” or an executive and we do not hold meetings. Accordingly the KGG is unable to meet the criteria for the submission of objections as stipulated in your response. Such criteria also exclude individual objectors which is inconsistent with the ECGPNC’s previous standpoint that it would not consider objections in a representative capacity;
- the response is biased and attributes a number of unwarranted and offensive motives to objectors such as that their objections “smack of racism”. This suggests that only whites are not in favour of changing the name of Grahamstown whereas the outcome of the previous processes as conducted by the Makana Municipality indicated that the majority of black Grahamstonians are also not in favour of the proposed name change (as borne out by the results of the independent survey conducted by the Rhodes University Institute for Social & Economic Research exclusively in Grahamstown’s townships which were also referred to in the KGG’s submission);
- the response also suggests and that objectors to the proposed name change seek to “associate the name of Colonel Graham with excellence in education and in the arts” whereas, on the contrary, their contention was rather that the name Grahamstown is associated with such positive attributes and has long since ceased to be associated with Colonel Graham;
- the response also does not deal at all with the contention that from an historic point of view the effect of keeping the name Grahamstown alongside that of Makana, as the name of the greater municipality, is in keeping with the constitutional imperative of reconciliation whereas doing away with the name Grahamstown because of its historical associations is retributive and not reconciliatory;
- the response also makes no mention of the guideline in the Handbook of the SAGPNC, which ought to be adhered to by the ECGPNC, that it is preferable that historical names be retained as part of the cultural fabric of the nation;
- the response also does not refer to the objection that the applicants for the proposed name change were officials rather than ordinary citizens who desire the change and that the motivation and substance of their applications has never been revealed;
- with reference to the process as conducted by the ECGPNC, the response seeks to distinguish the previous processes as conducted by the Makana Municipality by stating that such processes were only “aimed at promoting awareness and testing the views of the public about the possibility of a name change of the town” whereas there was no doubt that, as with the ECGPNC’s own process, those processes were a prelude to the stated intention of changing the name of Grahamstown but which did not achieve the desired result from the point of view of proponents of the name change including the ECGPNC.
- the previous processes were initiated by the ECGPNC and were conducted under its guidance and with its active involvement. The only difference between the previous processes and the ECGPNC’s own process is that the latter process was conducted exclusively by the ECGPNC and independently of the Makana Municipality thus which usurping what should primarily be a local process;
- the response refers to “hearings” of the ECGPNC whereas such “hearings” comprised a single meeting, rescheduled from a previous date. It was called at short notice and was held at a single venue with only a small number of persons in attendance.
- the response concedes that the meeting was not well attended but claims that the views of those members of the Grahamstown community who were not physically present were “heard and communicated through their representatives” without identifying which persons were present at the meeting in a representative capacity and from whom they derived their mandate. The previous consultative processes conducted by the Makana Municipality, on the other hand, were far more extensive;
- the response mentions the non-participation by the KGG in the ECGPNC’s process and its absence from the meeting convened by the ECGPNC. The KGG declined to participate in the ECGPNC’s process on the basis that it had already participated fully in the previous three processes; that the issue had already been fully ventilated, and that the outcome of those processes ought to be respected. The KGG did, however, participate in the ECGPNC’s process to the extent that it submitting a fully-motivated objection on behalf of the more than 5 000 individuals who expressed their opinions through the KGG during the previous processes;
- Finally, the ECGPNC’s response attempts to distinguish the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal in the matter of The Chairperson’s Association v Department of Arts & Culture (Case No.25/2006), on the issue of the renaming of Louis Trichardt, from the issue of its handling of the consultative process regarding the proposed renaming of Grahamstown. The issue is, however, one and the same and relates to the adequacy of such consultative process.
- The response suggests that it is sufficient that the ECGPNC “did the best it could to conduct adequate consultation”. One only has to read the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal to know that holding a single, poorly attended meeting involving one section of the community can by no means meet the standard of “adequate consultation”.
- In the case of Louis Trichardt, the failure by the local authority to hold a public consultative meeting in one constituency of the municipality was regarded as fatal to the process. As a result the renaming of Louis Trichardt to Machado was reversed. There is no doubt, therefore, that any attempt by the ECGPNC to change the name of Grahamstown on the basis of a single public meeting in one section of the community is doomed to failure.
The KGG is very familiar with the legislative process which has to be followed to change the name of Grahamstown and a recommendation by the ECGPNC in that regard is only a preliminary step in the process.
As we have previously advised the ECGPNC, our legal rights are reserved in terms of the principles as enunciated in the abovementioned decision of the SCA. That applies in our ordinary capacity as South African citizens as well as collectively as the KGG on behalf of the more than 5 000 persons who supported our campaign.
J C McCONNACHIE
Joint Co-ordinators KEEP GRAHAMSTOWN GRAHAMSTOWN (KGG)