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Durban may soon have a street named after Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez whose death this week is being mourned by millions around the world.
Mayor James Nxumalo yesterday said the eThekwini Municipality would “definitely” consider renaming a “prominent street” in Durban after the late revolutionary leader.
Speaking after a full council meeting yesterday, Nxumalo said Chavez was a great man and leader who “deserved” to have his legacy recorded in the city. The ANC has previously renamed a street after legendary South American revolutionary Che Guevara.
The 58-year-old president died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer. Venezuela is now observing seven days of mourning following his funeral yesterday.
Nxumalo, a SA Communist Party member, described Chavez as a communist who was one of “our own”.
“He was a revolutionary leader who played a huge role in the international struggle,” he said.
The city would “not hesitate” to include Chavez’s name when phase two of the street re-naming process resumes, said Nxumalo.
Opposition parties expressed shock and disbelief at Nxumalo’s idea.
Ousted DA caucus leader Tex Collins said the party would object to the idea. While he was a populist, Collins said Chavez had galvanised the country to poverty, corruption and disorder. “No way will we support this absurd idea,” he said.
A bemused IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi asked what significant role Chavez had played in the city to deserve a street name.
“What has he ever done for the city or the province? Actually, how many people in Durban know him?” he said.
Nkosi said the move “once again” highlighted the ANC-led council’s failure to prioritise more pressing issues. “Is this what you call service delivery, naming a street after a Venezuelan president that the residents don’t even know?”
With an annual budget of more than R30 billion, Nkosi said the city should focus on addressing the housing backlogs.
“People want houses, jobs and an overall better life.
“This shows that the city has no direction. The mayor and his party must stop focusing on minor issues and address the real concerns of residents,” said Nkosi.