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Johannesburg - The ANC's decision to rename the Free State town of Petrus Steyn just before its centenary was insensitive and spiteful, the Christian Democratic Party said on Tuesday.
“We again state that this is a breach of the spirit of the national peace accord on which the Constitution is based, with municipalities adopting one name, and the towns another,” said CDP leader Rev Theunis Botha.
Free State sport, arts, culture and recreation MEC Dan Kgothule said in a statement on Tuesday that Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile had approved the renaming of Petrus Steyn, which is in the Nketoana Municipality, as Mamafubedu.
According to the farming town's website, Petrus Steyn's widow sold the farm Sterkfontein on condition that the town, which was established there in 1914, bear his name.
Situated on the R26, the town was thought to be the highest above sea level in the Free State, was situated in the maize triangle and had one of the biggest co-operative grain silos in the province, the website said.
In a statement, Botha said the CDP also noted that Bloemfontein airport, which was formerly known as the JBM Hertzog Airport, had been renamed the Bram Fischer International Airport “in spite of a policy previously agreed to, not to name airports after people”.
“Once again the (African National Congress) has reneged on commitments that they have made. But then, we are becoming used to it,” he said.
“We find it repulsive that the city’s port to the outside world should be named after a communist from the Stalin era.”
Kgothule said in his statement that the renaming of the airport followed a long process of consultation and public hearings, in line with the SA Geographical Names Council Act and the Constitution.
He said the new name was proposed last October, was endorsed after public hearings last December, and was recommended to Mashatile on August 29. Mashatile approved and gazetted the new name on November 2.
“The official launch and re-naming ceremony is planned to take place before the end of the year.” - Sapa