Name changing is an ANC ploy to rewrite history, charges IFP
The IFP says that by renaming KwaZulu-Natal streets, the ANC-led eThekwini municipality is "airbrushing" their rich history and their contribution to the liberation of the country.
The IFP's Lionel Mtshali said his party acknowledged the need for residents of the province and citizens of South Africa to rise above the trauma of their colonial and apartheid history.
Mtshali was a panelist on Journalism Dialogue, which was hosted by Fray-Intermedia in Durban on Tuesday night.
He said the renaming of Umlazi's Mangosuthu Highway would open old wounds.
"We have always contended that the names of buildings and places directly associated with the worst excesses of our colonial and apartheid past would have to change to allow for a process of healing and reconciliation," Mtshali said.
The theme of the debate was "Is the IFP being airbrushed out of history?"
Mtshali said his party wanted the symbols of the past oppressive regime to give way to appropriate symbols of democracy.
"We urged the ruling party at the eThekwini municipality to resort to renaming only in exceptional instances and in the interest of national reconciliation and healing," Mtshali said.
He said the IFP viewed the use of a Grade 12 history book and the renaming of Mangosuthu Highway as "airbrushing the IFP out of the country's history".
Mtshali said giving prominence to only the ANC's freedom fighters over everyone else as the ANC was doing, "is a deliberate attempt to rewrite history".
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for finance Zweli Mkhize, an ANC member, said the party had no intention of airbrushing the "IFP or undermining the party's president, Mangosuthu Buthelezi".
Mkhize said the ANC had nothing to do with the history book the IFP was complaining about.
"The IFP and the ANC should agree on how to deal with issues that they differ on. The media needed to be more sensitive on issues like renaming by presenting a balanced picture rather than unbalanced reporting," he said.
Mkhize suggested that the IFP should challenge the history book issue in court.
Political monitor Mary de Haas said the media had tried to give people a voice on the renaming although "it does not dig deep enough".
UmAfrika publisher and editor Cyril Madlala said the media was not in the business of "airbrushing anyone out of history" but in the business of "making money".
"It is not in our interest to do so. We do not sit in a corner and discuss how to deal with a particular party," Madlala said.
He added that the level of journalism had been crippled because good journalists had left the profession.
The audience was made up largely of ANC and IFP supporters, who at regular intervals became rowdy.
Press Ombudsman chairman Joe Thloloe had a difficult time controlling the noisy audience.