Furore over Thabo Mbeki Clinic

Elisha Molefe

The renaming of a clinic after President Thabo Mbeki has caused a rift among residents of Vrischgewaagte, a village near Vryburg in the North West.

The clinic was renamed early this year after the North West department of health spent more than R1 million to revamp it.

Residents have charged that the clinic was named after the president by a few members of the ruling ANC party. "Mbeki is our president, but we don't want the clinic to be named after him," said Mapula Mothopeng, a Vrischgewaagte resident.

"The contractor was unsure of the 'Vrischgewaagte' spelling and wanted the municipality to confirm it, but some of our colleagues told him the name had been changed to Thabo Mbeki ," said one councillor who wanted to remain anonymous.

Some don't agree. "It is only a few individuals who wanted the name to revert to Vrischgewaagte Clinic," said Tswaing councillor Nono Mokgethi.

"The matter was tabled at a meeting, and it was agreed that the name must remain Thabo Mbeki," said Mokgethi.

"An independent candidate in the last municipal election, Boy Noko, incited the community to revolt against the president's name," said another councillor, Nikiwe Yena.

"He was against me when I became a councillor."

Department of health spokesman George Tlholatlung said his department was never involved in any name changing.

"This is a matter between the community and their political parties. We are only concerned with the smooth running of the clinic."