Race to claim Mandela name for SA airport

2017-09-05 12:31 - Gabi Zietsman
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Cape Town - Two municipalities are currently vying the Eastern Cape Geographic Names Committee to change their respective airports to Nelson Mandela Airport.

Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality have both expressed interest in claiming the struggle icon's name for their Port Elizabeth and Mthatha Airports respectively, according to HeraldLIVE

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Despite the interest expressed by both municipalities, the Eastern Cape Geographic Names Committee has not yet received official applications from either.

Deputy chairperson of the committee Zukile Jodwana confirms in the report that the committee has received three applications from local residents for the renaming of the Port Elizabeth Airport, which includes Nelson Mandela, as well as Raymond Mhlaba and Sipho Hashe. Both were ANC struggle stalwarts that organised resistance in the Port Elizabeth area during Apartheid.

At a portfolio committee meeting on Thursday, council member for sport, recreation, arts and culture Siyasanga Sijadu reiterated an urgent need for the mayoral committee to support an application to the naming committee, with fears that Mthatha will win the process after declaring their interest in the name back in 2013. Renovations have been ongoing at Mandela's gravesite in Qunu, which will be opened to the public next year, and falls under King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality.

ALSO SEE: It's a no from us... South Africans on why we don't need the R3.5m Nelson Mandela statue

Jodwana emphasised to HeraldLIVE that the naming committee will start officially deliberating Port Elizabeth Airport's new name next month, though could not confirm how long the process will take. Last year they started the process to look into changing Port Elizabeth's name to Gqeberha, but no final decision has been made.

An airport with the Nelson Mandela name already exists in Cape Verde, where its capital's international airport was renamed to Nelson Mandela International Airport in 2012, which hoped to improve relations between the island and South Africa.

However, airports can have the same names, as long as their International Civil Aiviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) codes are different, and wouldn't necessarily change when the airport changes names.

What are your thoughts on this - should Port Elizabeth International Airport or Mthatha Airport be renamed Nelson Mandela Airport? Email us or tweet us  @Traveller24_SA

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