Name change controversy boils

Sibongile Mashaba and Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

The ANC-led government in North West has objected to the naming of a new local clinic after President Thabo Mbeki.

The provincial health department has taken Tswaing local municipality to task and demanded that the Thabo Mbeki Clinic revert to its planned name of Frisgewacht.

The department is angry at the local council for not consulting it about the matter, and senior district officials met with the local mayor Mankentsi Tlhape to resolve the issue.

An official, who asked to remain anonymous, said the department was surprised to receive a letter from the council saying a meeting between it and the community had resolved that the name be changed to "Thabo Mbeki".

According to the official, the mayor of Tswaing was not even contacted or informed about the name change.

"No one can just take the president's name and call any thing they want after him. Proper procedures must be followed," he said.

He said they would not object if the community wanted to rename the clinic and would help to ensure proper procedures were followed.

l Eastern Cape sport, recreation, arts and culture MEC Noxolo Abraham-Ntantiso yesterday said that changing names was a high emotional and sensitive issue that needed cool heads to resolve peacefully.

Abraham-Ntantiso was speaking in East London at the two-day summit on transformation of place names.

The Eastern Cape geographical names committee chairman Fumanekile Dyubhele said they would do away with vulgar, offensive and derogatory names.

Dyubhele said plainly offensive names, such as Kaffirs' River and Kaffirs' Drift among others, still existed in parts of the province.

National director of living heritage in the Department of Arts and Culture, Phakamani Mthembu, suggested consulting provinces such as Limpopo which had experienced name changing challenges in the past.