Renaming of four SA airports being considered: what you need to know

17 September 2020 - 12:30 By unathi nkanjeni
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Transport minister Fikile Mbalula.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula.
Image: Fikile Mbalula via Twitter

The government is considering renaming four of SA's key airports.

This is according to transport minister Fikile Mbalula, who replied to a parliamentary question posed by EFF MP Nontando Nolutshungu this week.

Here is what you need to know.

Airport name changes

Mbalula said the government was considering the renaming of Cape Town International Airport, East London Airport, Port Elizabeth International Airport, and Kimberley Airport.

Mbalula said this was in line with the South African Geographical Names Council Act of 1998 and is part of the Transformation of Heritage Landscape Government Programme.

“According to the act, the arts and culture minister is responsible for the approval of geographical names after receiving recommendations from the SA Geographical Names Council (SAGNC). 

“The SAGNC is only responsible for geographical features of national concern including, but not limited to, towns, cities, suburbs and any form of human settlement, post offices, stations, highways, airports and government dams. SAGNC is also responsible for natural landforms like mountains, hills, rivers, streams, bays, headlands and islands,” said Mbalula.

Transparent process

It is not clear when the changes are set to be made but Mbalula said the Airports Company SA (ACSA) had appointed an independent public participation consultant to facilitate a transparent public participation process.

“A report outlining the methodology undertaken in ensuring a transparent public participation process, as well as the outcome of proposals, has been submitted to the department of transport and is being considered by the department.

“The report entails among others, the issuance of an advert in the print media and radio broadcasts to solicit name proposals, the public hearing event, how comments were collected and the results of the public input.”

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela International Airport

Last year, the EFF mobilised a campaign for the renaming of Cape Town International airport to Winnie Mandela International Airport.

The party said naming the airport after Madikizela-Mandela would be a great honour to the late struggle stalwart.

When asked about the process of renaming the airport to honour Madikizela-Mandela, Mbalula said a report is being considered.

“A report on the renaming of airports is being considered by the department of transport, including the outcome of public submissions with respect to the renaming of Cape Town International Airport,” said Mbalula.

DA opposes name change  

The DA in the Eastern Cape strongly opposed the proposed name change for the East London Airport to King Phalo Airport.

HeraldLIVE reported that residents have been given 21 days to object to or say on the planned renaming of the airport.

The DA’s coastal constituency leader, Chantel King, said the renaming of the airport will not increase tourism, boost investment, improve service delivery, create employment, or eradicate the problems residents face daily.

“Instead of spending millions on new signage, the money should be used to improve the lives of the people of the Buffalo City,” she said in a statement. “The DA is circulating a petition that we will be submitting to the department before the petitions deadline on September 17.

“We will not stand idly by and watch how millions of rand are wasted on frivolous name changes with money that can rather be used to improve the lives of residents.”

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