SA airports renaming: How will the new names be chosen?

2018-06-06 06:30
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Four of South Africa's airports will be undergoing a name change - but the renaming of Cape Town International has caused the most heated debate.  

As per South Africa's Geographical Names Council Act, a formal public participation process has been underway with the deadline for public commentary to rename the airports - officially closing on 6 June. Cape Town International Airport, Port Elizabeth International Airport, Kimberly Airport and East London Airport are all pegged to undergo the name-change process.

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But now that the renaming public commentary phase has closed, how and when will the new names be chosen?

The short answer according Cape Town International spokesperson Deirdre Davids is, "I don’t have a time frame at this stage."

Davids says the process, which is quite intricate, depends on two key two committee sittings. 

"The focus now is to collate, through the independent facilitator, a public input report," she says. This will basically include all of the comments that have been received during the public commentary process.

"The report will be compiled inclusive of conclusions and recommendations. This report will be submitted to our principles and the competent authorities, ie the National Department of Transport and ultimately the Department of Arts and Culture for further consideration," says Davids. 

From there the process moves to the  Provincial Geographical naming committee. 

The report will form an addendum to the submission made to the Provincial Geographical naming committee.

"This committee will receive our submission and make a recommendation to the local Minster of Arts and Culture, who in turn makes a recommendation to the National Geographical naming committee."

And then finally this committee makes a recommendation to the National Minster of Arts and Culture, says Davids. 

The name-change debate was stoked by the EFF following the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela earlier this year. See News24's full coverage as emotions ran high at the public hearing on Monday 4 June here

Frontrunner names according to social media include:

  • Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also known as Winnie Mandela. She was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician, and the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela. The airport renaming came to the fore shortly after her death earlier this year.
  • Robert Sobukwe, was a prominent struggle stalwart and political dissident, who founded the Pan Africanist Congress in opposition to the South African apartheid system. 
  • Albertina Sisulu, a political activist and nurse, was one of the most important leaders of anti-Apartheid resistance in South Africa. She is often referred to as the `Mother of the Nation’. She acted on her ideal of human rights throughout her life, assisted by her husband and fellow activist, the late Walter Sisulu.
  • Krotoa, or Eva, was a Khoi translator, working for the Dutch during the founding of the Cape Colony.  
  • Sara Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman famous for her large behind and exhibited overseas as a freak show attraction known as the 'Hottentot Venus'.

Davids who attended the public meeting stated there are "no clear trends or conclusions at this point".

Those interested in participating in the public commentary process can do so until 6 June. Acsa has made an SMS line 079 947 7410 available, alternatively you can also email airportnamechange@chand.co.za by 6 June 2018.