By Mamela Gowa
Buffalo City Metro is forging ahead with its plans to change geographical names throughout the metro.
Thirty-five names were put before council last week and these are to be taken back to communities in the form of public meetings.
These public hearings are envisaged to start in January, said BCM spokeswoman Bathandwa Diamond last night. The names were proposed by BCM residents during public hearings held last year.
The new public hearings are expected to take place after BCM mayor Xola Pakati announced that the chairwoman of the geographical name change committee, Pumla Nazo-Makatala, was recently appointed to chair the Eastern Cape geographical names committee.
Her position will be filled by local economic development and agencies portfolio head Mawethu Marata.
Diamond said the new committee would “convene and develop a schedule” for public hearings. “Once the schedule has been adopted the committee will embark on a marketing drive to ensure maximum participation in the public hearings which are envisaged to start in January.”
The money for the process would depend on whether the public hearings were “clustered or not”, a decision which would be taken by the BCM committee.
She said the budget “in the main is used for marketing and communications and costs related to public hearings”.
The BCM committee was working “closely” with the EC geographical name change committee, she said.
In the report tabled before council last week city manager Andile Sihlahla said a total of 35 name change proposals were submitted by the previous committee to the South African National Geographical Name Change committee but these were returned because of a lack of consultation.
These included the proposal to change Southernwood to Tebekana, Amalinda to Malinde, Quigney to Mhlonyane, Gonubie to Qunube, King William’s Town to Qonce, Duncan Village to Ziphunzana, Chalumna to Tyolomnqa, Gulu to Krulu, Beacon Bay to KuNodyilo and Macleantown to Mpongo.
When Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance councillors raised their concerns about some names being used more than once, such as Buffalo River and King William’s Town both getting proposals for “Qonce”, Nazo-Makatala was quick to defend the proposals.
“These names were submitted by the communities. It is going to be a process of going back to the communities, not that as the city we are saying these names must be changed,” she said, explaining that the names would have to be discussed in their various communities and only then would the BCM name change committee deal with them.
“We were showing the council that these were the names which were submitted by individuals. Public meetings will be held with different communities so that they can have records and the finality of each and every name,” Nazo-Makatala added.
EFF councillor Phindiwe Kaba requested that name changes be done creatively because Fort Glamorgan and West Bank could not both be named KwaNongqongqo.
She said: “I am very happy. This should have been done a long time ago. I am pleading with the committee that there be creativity on the names because there is no way that Fort Glamorgan and West Bank can both be kwaNongqongqo and there is no way that Cove Rock and Gompo Town can be Ilitye likaGompo and eGompo; that will actually confuse our people so I would like a little bit of creativity but I appreciate the whole report,” said Kaba.
DA councillor Zolani Bakawuli said: “I am looking at King William’s Town, which is proposed to be changed to Qonce and the Buffalo River as Qonce too. I want clarity on that”.
Council speaker Alfred Mtsi urged councillors not to debate the matter as “there will be public hearings where further engagement will be entertained”.
“There will be a platform for engagement in those names,” said Mtsi. It has been proposed that Gonubie River be changed to EQunubeni and there have been proposals for Wilsonia and Dawn to be named Nqaza, while East London Town is proposed to change to kuGompo, Gompo Town to eGompo and Cove Rock to Ilitye likaGompo.
The residential area of Nahoon could be changed to Nxarhuni Coastal Region, Nahoon River to Nxarhuni and Nahoon Dam to Ichibi laseNxarhuni.
It has been proposed that the Buffalo River be changed to Qonce and Berlin to Tshabo.
Defending the proposed names, Ward 2 (incorporating Duncan Village) councillor Ntombizandile Mhlola said: “These are the results of consultation from 11 April 2016 to 20 April 2016. We are representing the people here.” — firstname.lastname@example.org