AN expensive and pointless exercise. This was the reaction of organised business to a proposal by the Hibiscus Coast Municipality for name changes.
But if some in the ANC have their way, Port Shepstone may be among the names on the list.
The proposal to look at name changes came from the Speaker’s office and was tabled at an executive committee meeting this week.
A five-member renaming sub-committee has been formed, consisting of three councillors from the ANC and one each from the DA and IFP.
The ANC said yesterday it was happy to change names that did not reflect the heritage of South Africa.
Kenneth Dladla said: “If you look at the name Port Shepstone, it was given by our previous administrators under the apartheid regime.
“We don’t want names that reflect a bad history of our town or the country in general.
“Through the proper process and public consultation we want to have such names changed,” he said.
However, the South Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry remains unimpressed.
Its chairperson Peter Munns said: “From a chamber perspective we believe that our municipality should have learnt from other municipalities.
“This is an extremely expensive and pointless exercise which will cause established businesses to incur unnecessary costs.”
Munns said the south coast did not enjoy a vibrant economy like other municipalities.
“The south coast is a disaster area. There is a lot of poverty and unemployment. The business community, who are also the tax payers and rate payers, will be burdened with the expenses of having to change their contact details, business stationery and so forth.
“There is no future in the past. We need cooperation, open encouragement and commitment to our country to move forward. There are more important issues affecting the south coast than names.”
HCM spokesperson Simon Soboyisa said: “It is worthwhile to mention that understanding the history that we are coming from as South Africa in general, it is important to re-look some of the names which may not be assisting society in terms of reconciliation as a result of their origin.”
The process would also include public participation after the sub-committee met and presented its recommendations to council.
“More detailed information on this matter can be expected at least once the sub-committee has had its first meeting. The issue of budget may form part of those details,” said Soboyisa.
The DA’s Doug Rawlins, who serves on the sub-committee, suggested the renaming may also be in keeping with the ANC’s centenary celebrations.
However, Soboyisa denied this, saying it was a council matter.
Rawlins told The Witness: “At this stage we really do not know what is going to be renamed. Whether it is streets, town or monuments. We have not received any documentation as yet and we will ensure that legislation is followed to the T.
The IFP’s Sifundo Ngwane said: “We are happy to be involved in the contributions and submissions of this project. It is important for representation so that we do not have issues like other municipalities where opposition councillors were left in the dark during the process.”
Ngwane said the IFP would scrutinise every proposed name.