Name changes proposed for Durban

The renaming of streets and buildings in Durban took a controversial turn on Wednesday, when eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba announced the municipality's intention to rename the Durban International Convention Centre the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre and the new soccer stadium the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The stadium was initially punted as the King Senzangakhona Stadium, but the municipality's executive committee members have hinted in recent weeks that the name could be changed.

A spokesperson for the Zulu royal household, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the household had not been consulted about the about-turn on the proposed name of the stadium, and that it had learnt of the news when contacted by the media.

Opposition parties reacted angrily to the news, saying that they had not been involved in the process.

Other name change suggestions proposed at a full council meeting in Folweni on Wednesday were that Victoria Embankment be named after Margaret Meadi, Stanger Street after Stalwart Simelane, NMR Avenue after Masabalala Yengwa and the M4 northern freeway after Ruth First.

It was also submitted that Broad/Grey Street be named after Yusuf Dadoo, Commercial Street after Braam Fischer and Alice Street after Johannes Nkosi.

The council is also sticking with its controversial decision to name Point Road after passive resistance leader, Mahatma Gandhi.

The proposals came a day after the ANC rescinded its proposal for the soon-to-be-demolished Durban International Airport to be renamed after Mabhida, a struggle stalwart.

The party withdrew its proposal because Mabhida's family "was not happy at all" that the council planned to name after him a place that would be demolished.

Democratic Alliance councillor Tom Stokes said the party welcomed the policy framework outlining the name change process, but was concerned that the ANC had flouted the process.

He said icons like Albert Luthuli were also the DA's heroes, but the party needed to be part of the process of choosing names.

IFP councillor Vela Gumede said the ANC in the municipality was simply trying to score political points in its choice of names.

Mlaba said the name change process had been moving slowly, but the council would complete the programme this year.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele said the stadium would only be completed in early 2009 and there was plenty of time to choose a name.

"For now let us refer to it as a new 2010 stadium. The main issue is that KwaZulu-Natal is building a new stadium.

"The name can be anything. It can be 'Christmas Tree'," he said.

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