Government considering name changes for South African airports

 ·16 Sep 2020

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says that his department is currently considering a report on the renaming of the country’s airports.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, Mbalula said that the report includes the outcome of public submissions with respect to the renaming of Cape Town International Airport.

He said that the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has also embarked on a project to rename East London Airport, Port Elizabeth International Airport and Kimberley Airport.

“This is in line with the South African Geographical Names Council Act and is part of the Transformation of Heritage Landscape Government Programme.

“According to the act, the Minister of Arts and Culture is responsible for the approval of geographical names after receiving recommendations from the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC).”

The SAGNC is responsible for geographical features of national concern including, but not limited to, towns/cities, suburbs and any form of human settlement, post offices, stations, highways, airports and government dams.

The council is also responsible for natural landforms like mountains, hills, rivers, streams, bays, headlands and islands.

Mbalula said that ACSA appointed an independent public participation consultant to facilitate a transparent public participation process.

“A report outlining the methodology undertaken in ensuring a transparent public participation process, as well as the outcome of proposals, has been submitted to the Department of Transport and is being considered by the department.”

Mbalula said that the report considers a number of issues, including:

  • The issuance of an advert in the print media and radio broadcasts to solicit name proposals,
  • The public hearing event,
  • How comments were collected and the results of the public input.

“The report also include the process of renaming East London Airport, Port Elizabeth International Airport and Kimberley Airport, which is facilitated by provinces and municipalities,” he said.

King Phalo Airport

The Eastern Cape government is currently considering an official name change for several towns in the province as part of a programme aimed at transforming the country’s geographic landscape to be more representative of its people.

The major metropolitan of East London has been identified as one of the towns which could see a change, with KuGompo provided as an alternate name.

Other proposed changes include:

  • King William’s Town renamed to Qonce;
  • Berlin renamed to Ntabozuko;
  • East London Airport renamed to King Phalo Airport.

The opposition Democratic Alliance said that it would oppose the ‘frivolous’ name changes in the Buffalo City Metropolitan.

“Renaming these Buffalo City Metro towns and the airport will not increase tourism, boost investment, improve service delivery, create employment or eradicate the problems residents face on a daily basis,” said the DA’s Chantel King.

“Instead of spending millions on new signage, the money should be used to improve the lives of the people of the Buffalo City Metro.”

Residents have been given 21 days to oppose or comment on the renaming of the three towns and the airport. The deadline for submissions to the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture is 21 September.

Winnie Mandela International Airport

In 2019 the EFF campaigned to rename Cape Town International Airport to Winnie Mandela International Airport.

Madikizela-Mandela was a member of the fifth parliament and that she had previously been recognised for her massive contribution in the fight against apartheid, the party said.

“(The house) recalls that there are very few significant spaces and areas that are named after female freedom fighters in South Africa.

“The greatest honour to give Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be to rename the Cape Town International Airport after the struggle icon, in order to ensure that memories of her gallant war against Apartheid are not deleted,” it said.

Read: What to expect from Ramaphosa’s new recovery plan for South Africa

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