Outcry over call for name changes

East Londoners slam BCM for not prioritising upkeep of infrastructure

EARLIER this month Buffalo City Metro mayor Xola Pakati pushed for a geographical name change in East London and its main road – Oxford Street, as well as King William’s Town, as reported in our sister newspaper Daily Dispatch.

Their views on priorities are not accurate at all and to me this seems to be more out of greed for political fame by our mayor

Pakati was reported as saying the geographical name change means restoring the original names of some of the areas within our jurisdiction.

However, the East London public are not at all pleased by this proposal which was treated as a matter of urgency at a council meeting. Most want services to be prioritised first.

Neil Smith, who runs the Fix Our Broken City Facebook page, said it was grossly irresponsible of the ANC-led municipality to suggest name changes and the expense that goes along with it, against a background of the non-delivery of basic services.

“Name changes do not give people jobs, clean up the streets or put food in people’s mouths. I am all for having names that reflect our cultural identity better, but not at the expense of infrastructure maintenance,” Smith said.

Pakati said last week: “ We are here in East London and King William’s Town and we are no longer subjects of the Queen of Britain and what we have here is the colonial era names of our areas.”

East Londoner Giovanni Redcliffe, who helped start the Buffalo Flats Ratepayers and Residents’ Association page, said if BCM infrastructure was in a good state, then the expenditure of much-needed funding would have been welcomed better.

“BCM wants to increase tariffs, yet fails to properly maintain roads and parks. Now it wants to waste money on names changes.

“Their views on priorities are not accurate at all and to me this seems to be more out of greed for political fame by our mayor,” said Redcliffe.

Another resident, Nomsa Mbabama, commented on the Dispatch article on Facebook in much the same way as many others did.

“The towns in BCM are dirty, garbage is not collected routinely and everything is overgrown with weeds and full of potholes – and our main priority is to change names?” questioned Mbabama.

Daily Dispatch reported that Pakati said: “The geographical names in BCM should reflect the ‘rich and diverse culture, natural resources, religious, ethnic and historical heritage of the area’.”

Siya Madondile also responded to the Dispatch post, saying: “I personally don’t have a problem with changing street names, but I think the main priority should be the townships.

“I know it will cost millions to change names and those millions can be used to eradicate shacks in Duncan Village and other squatter camps.”

Buffalo Flats resident Burton Brown said: “The CBD and other parts of the metro are dirty and upside down but our mayor is worried about name changes! There is nothing wrong with this these name changes, but clearly the priority should be to get the metro back into shape.”

Mongameli Bhanqo Mdumane said: “Every other place has changed names reflecting our new dispensation. So, after 23 years of democracy, you still have the name East London, like really? King William’s Town? As if these places were nameless before the arrival of the settlers. Time for change.”

Amos Mtatase, also reacting to the Dispatch article, said: “I truly support the matter of name change, but it can’t be the priority. Have you ever noticed how dirty East London is? It’s a disgrace.

“You want to change those dirty street names with the names of our heroes? Are you really proud of those heroes? Flats in East London need to be painted and the windows are broken.

“Sometimes I ask myself if the mayor of East London knew what East London looked like during apartheid? Can’t we take what was good during the apartheid era and live with it?

“I don’t think there is even one hero that will be proud of his name on a dirty street.”

The national Department of Tourism, Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture and Heritage will work closely together with the BCM to implement this project.

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