Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has announced the name change of the Mbizana local municipality in the Eastern Cape.
Dlamini Zuma will deliver a keynote address on Wednesday (31 March) at the official renaming of the municipality after the struggle stalwart, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
The change, which has faced some controversy, was officially gazetted on 4 March. The municipality encompasses a number of popular tourist destinations on South Africa’s ‘wild coast’, including the Wild Coast Sun Resort and the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve.
“The renaming of Mbizana Local Municipality is an important step towards ensuring that the Winnie Madikizela Mandela municipality serves communities with care and respond to their concerns timorously (sic) and rapidly,” the minister’s office said ahead of the address.
“At the heart of the renaming of this municipality is a resolve to serve communities better, bearing in mind that Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela served people selflessly and wholeheartedly, moreover she was a champion of the poor. Therefore the renaming pays homage to her ideals and values.
“With communities across the country relying on their municipalities to provide them with access to basic services that will improve the quality of their lives, the newly named municipality has to live up to expectations and its name.”
The ANC’s Free State branch has previously said that municipalities should intensify their programmes of naming and renaming as a way of speeding up service delivery.
In a briefing on its Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting on Thursday (4 March), the group said this process was also important for security reasons, including response by emergency services.
The branch said that communities are directly involved with the naming and renaming of public assets, and these programmes should be used to their fullest.
“The failure to name our areas – in particular, streets – have impacted at times the provision of certain services, such as timeous response by emergency services. This process will continue to buttress the people’s dignity and (security),” it said.
The opposition Democratic Alliance has criticised the latest name change as a “poor attempt to gloss over delivery failures”.
“The DA rejects this assertion by the Minister that the renaming of the municipality after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will in some way increase the municipality’s response towards meeting the needs of the community,” it said.
“This is simply ridiculous and should be seen for what it is – the ANC government’s desperate attempt to use name changes as a way of painting over their service delivery cracks that are widening by the day.
“Changing a name of a municipality after an ANC stalwart will do nothing to improve the lives of the people in this municipality, and it certainly will not increase service delivery – only a capable state that is run by capable and competent municipal officials will do that.”