Moves afoot to make Tshwane the capital

Moves are afoot for South Africa's capital city to be renamed Tshwane, the Tshwane metro council confirmed on Friday.

"Pretoria is a suburb within Tshwane.... the city centre is Pretoria... the city is Tshwane," said spokesperson Console Tleane.

Tleane also confirmed the name "Pretoria" would be changed to either "Tshwane" or the "City of Tshwane" on road signs across South Africa.

However, the plans for road sign changes were at best "still a discussion that might well lead to concrete plans".

Tleane said no date had been set, or responsibility for costs established.

This lands in the middle of debate over the legal status of the name "Tshwane."

On Thursday, Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa's office confirmed the premier had advised Tshwane mayor Gwen Ramokgopa that the name "Tshwane" did not need approval from the SA Geographical Names Council (SAGNC).

Usually the SAGNC sends recommendations of new or changed names to Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, who then approves or vetoes the registration of the names.

The premier's spokesperson, Simon Zwane, said Shilowa told the mayor her application to the SAGNC duplicated a completed provincial process.

The mayor then of her own accord withdraw an application for a name change she had sent to the SAGNC, said Zwane.

The Freedom Front Plus, the Democratic Alliance and Afriforum said on Friday they would take legal action against the Tshwane municipality's planned road sign changes.

They said they believed that Tshwane remains only a reference to a government structure - a municipality - and not an actual place.

Phakamani Mthembu, director of Living Heritage - under which the SAGNC falls - said his understanding was that Tshwane referred to a "metro structure".

He could not comment on whether "Tshwane" could also be the name of a city without approval from the SAGNC.

Mthembu said he was sure that the municipality "had done their homework" on the legal implications of changing the road signs.

He said bodies such as the Freedom Front Plus and Afriforum had "vested interests" and had threatened the SAGNC with court action even if the name "Tshwane" for the city received ministerial approval.

On Friday afternoon Tleane confirmed the municipality was following the premier's advice that ministerial approval of the name Tshwane was "not necessary".

" makes provision for the city to be so named and proclaimed without having necessarily having to be so named through the South African Geographical Names Council Act." - Sapa

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