Spat about airport renaming expands with accusations of revisionism and patriarchy

06 June 2018 - 12:44 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Cape Town International Airport. File photo.
Cape Town International Airport. File photo.
Image: Foto24/Lulama Zenzile/Gallo Images

The renaming of the Cape Town International Airport has caused a fresh public spat after the ruling ANC proposed it be named after late struggle icon Nelson Mandela.

This comes in the back of a public campaign‚ led by the EFF‚ to instead name the airport after ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ who died last April. At her funeral‚ EFF leader Julius Malema called for the ANC to support his party's call to rename the airport in her honour.

The EFF campaign had gained momentum online with a number of social media users‚ including some ANC members‚ calling for the airport to be named after Mandikizela-Mandela.

But the official ANC Twitter account on Wednesday tweeted a poster calling for the airport to be renamed after Mandela‚ causing serious backlash from a number of Twitter users. The party has since deleted the message with the poster without an explanation.

ANC spokesman Pule Mabe could not be reached for comment on the matter at the time of writing but other posters doing the rounds online show that the party instead want the Kimberly airport to be renamed after Madikizela-Mandela.

In a statement‚ EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi slammed the ANC’s proposal‚ saying it was a “reaffirmation of patriarchal power and domination by the ANC‚ which has not put up a woman's name against that of a man”.

Ndlozi said the proposal seeks to render Mandikizela-Mandela’s name insignificant. “This proves the point made by Julius Malema that the ANC brought crocodile tears at Mama Winnie Mandela's funeral. Because‚ a mere month later‚ after placing her body under soil and stone‚ and whilst the family is still in mourning‚ the ANC unashamedly relegates her name in favour of a man's‚” he said.

Ndlozi also criticised the ANC Women’s League for keeping silent over the party’s proposal.

“Since the campaign for renaming of airports began‚ they have not supported the name of Mama Winnie Mandela for Cape Town International Airport. Now they have participated in rendering it into insignificance‚ second to that of a man‚” said Ndlozi.

He also accused the ANC of being partisan for proposing only ANC stalwarts to rename three other airports around the country.

According to Ndlozi‚ the ANC wants the East London airport to be renamed after Chris Hani and the Port Elizabeth airport renamed after Albertina Sisulu.

“This proposal‚ despite its patriarchal assault‚ also seeks to portray that only ANC veterans played a role in the struggle for liberation. They seek to distort history‚ revealing themselves as a dishonest bunch of revisionists‚” he said.

Ndlozi said the EFF preferred the East London airport to be named after Steve Biko while they wanted Kimberly airport named after Robert Sokukwe.

They do however agree with the ANC on wanting Port Elizabeth airport named after Albertina Sisulu.

- additional reporting by Aphiwe Deklerk