Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has vowed to lobby the ANC’s National Executive Committee in an open discussion on finding an appropriate name for South Africa, according to a report in the 13 June edition of The Mercury.
Mthethwa who was speaking to party supporters during a cadre’s forum on Sunday, pointed out that South Africa is not the name of the country, but is just “a geographical description of where we are”.
He noted that the ANC had never given itself time to think about the name of the country, and that as his department had power to change the naming of public areas, there was now an opportunity to rename the country to one that was more reflective of the country’s past and its people.
While government had made strides in changing the colonial names of places, there was more to be done in identifying improper names, such as Durban and Empangeni, said Mthethwa.
“To tell the truth, the country does not have a name. It is not there.”
“Benjamin D’Urban named our place, eThekwini, after himself and called it Durban,” he said.
He said he had also recommended a name change for Empangeni because “there is no such name in the Zulu language.”
“The area used to be called Embangweni Wombuso wakwa Mthethwa (infighting over the chiefdom of Mthethwa clans),” he said.
ANC and other responses
Speaking to the Mercury, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said that the issue of the country’s name would be discussed when it was brought before the ANC and that the ANC had not taken any position on the matter.
“If there was one member of the NEC who spoke somewhere, expressing his own ideas he must bring them to the ANC for discussion.”
“There is currently no discussion in the ANC about changing the country’s name,” said Kodwa.
When asked for a response, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlonzi said his party also did not support the current name of the country, but added that it would be “a futile exercise to rename a country that did not belong to you.”
The DA’s Arts and Culture deputy shadow minister Allen Grootboom said his party could not comment on the matter because it had not been discussed internally.