No deal over Pretoria

Tshwane Executive Mayor Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. Photo: PEGGY NKOMO
Tshwane Executive Mayor Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. Photo: PEGGY NKOMO

CITY of Tshwane executive mayor Kgosientsho Ramokgopa yesterday shot down reports that his council had reached an agreement with opposition parties to keep the capital city's name unchanged in return for renaming 27 city streets.

Addressing a media briefing shortly after delivering his State of the City Address, Ramokgopa said he did not know where the information about the council having compromised on the Pretoria name change came from.

He reiterated that the matter was still in the hands of Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile.

He said the council "will be seeking an audience with the minister to provide clarity on his assertion for further consultation".

"It should be remembered that the council has fulfilled all its legislative obligations on this matter and it is now in the hands of the minister to make final determination," he said.

About the renaming of 27 streets he said the matter would be tabled at tomorrow's council sitting when "a decision will be taken".

He charged that the renaming of the streets was "no hatred against the Afrikaners" though the majority of the targeted streets have Afrikaans names.

Ramokgopa also said they had given in to the retention of Afrikaans street names such as Paul Kruger and Pretorius after consultations with all stakeholders.

But he said they were encouraged by the determination and resoluteness of all parties represented in council to finalise the matter "in a manner that realises social cohesion and racial harmony".

He said it was the city's wish to finalise the process by the end of the current financial year.

Regarding the future of Schubert Park, from wich residents were evacuated because the block of flats was not safe for people to live in, he said a technical report on the structural integrity was completed by a team of experts, and that they would be lacking in their duty "to allow people to continue living in a building declared dangerous for human habitation".

Responding to a question regarding the R31-million lawsuit by evicted residents, Ramokgopa said the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein dismissed the residents' appeal on Monday and that gave the council the go-ahead to either demolish or implode the flats.

He also said they had started with a process to employ permanently the more than 4000 employees hired through labour brokers.

He, however, said the process would take place in stages and that not all the benefits, including medical aid, would kick in immediately due to a lack of funds.

The City would also recruit 500 police students to undergo a two-year training and to more than double the metro police force from 1600 to 3500 by 2014.