Row over Durban renamings intensifies

Canaan Mdletshe and Mary Papayya

Canaan Mdletshe and Mary Papayya

Battle lines have been drawn between opposition parties and the eThekwini municipality over changes to the names of streets, buildings, roads and other structures in Durban.

The IFP, supported by the DA, warned the ANC-led eThekwini municipality yesterday that if the council did not respond to their demands to halt the changes they would resort to "other steps".

On Tuesday, the DA joined the IFP in a march through the city centre to voice concern over the naming and the renaming of streets and buildings mainly after ANC struggle activists.

The DA's John Steenhuisen said yesterday that they would back the IFP all the way in its endeavours to "correct what's wrong".

"We will be with the IFP in the next weeks or months. It is not about the IFP, but about all the other people living within the city, within the province.

"We want to know why the names of people honoured are from one party, the ANC. It's ethically wrong," Steenhuisen said.

The IFP's caucus leader, Thembi Nzuza, said she was also concerned that city officials, including manager Michael Sutcliffe, had indicated that the process would go ahead despite the objections.

Nzuza said it was ridiculous that a single person had proposed 100 names as indicated by the latest submissions made to the municipality.

"It's really not on. How out of three million people living in Durban, only one person can suggest a hundred names? Who on earth in his right mind would even consider those names," she said.

Nzuza said if they did not get a positive response from the municipality within seven days, they would take further steps.

"We have plans and strategies in place in case they give us a negative response. One thing they should know is that we won't back down.

"We will fight to the bitter end. We want them to restart the process," she said.

Leaders in the Indian community have also expressed concerns over the renaming of Point Road - notorious for its prostitutes and bar brawls by visiting sailors - after passive resistance leader Mahatma Ghandi.

"The Minority Front is also upset about the lack of consultation on this matter," said its leader Amichand Rajbansi.

"I even discussed this matter with Nelson Mandela when I had tea with him on March 28 as I believe that all leaders who made a contribution to this city across the political spectrum must be considered when it comes to the name changes."

But the municipality remains adamant. Its head of governance, Sipho Cele, said the process was on track and that the deadline for objections to the current database of 245 names was May 11.

"We have received 181 public responses to the 245 submissions. We will consolidate the objections and take it through to our executive committee for ratification by council."