Airports Company SA (Acsa) spokesperson Deidre Davids said yesterday Transport Minister Blade Nzimande had directed them to facilitate the process of changing the airport’s name to Nelson Mandela International Airport to honour the country’s icon.
“The renaming of the airport will follow a due process. Key to this will be following all statutory requirements and a series of stakeholder engagements, including a public participation process.
‘‘Acsa confirms that the honourable Minister of Transport, Dr BE Nzimande, directed the company on March 22, 2018 to facilitate the process of changing the name of Cape Town International Airport to Nelson Mandela International Airport,” Davids said.
Department of Transport spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said yesterday the renaming was in keeping with the centenary celebrations of the late statesman, and there had been consultations over the name since the start of the year.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s name, as well as that of Albertina Sisulu and Robert Sobukwe, were also considered.
“While the Department of Transport, with the Department of Arts and Culture, is still in the consultation process, Minister Blade Nzimande believes that it is important that such an important airport of national, regional and international significance should be named after one of our liberation icons who fought tirelessly against white supremacy and apartheid,” Mnisi said.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor and Victor Verster prisons.
Nzimande said: “Our ultimate preoccupation is to ensure that we name this airport after one of our heroes or heroines who contributed immensely to the attainment of a democratic South Africa, one that is united, non-racial, non- sexist, democratic and prosperous.
‘‘Government will work tirelessly to speed up the consultation process so that it is hopefully concluded within the next few months.”
At maWinnie’s funeral at the Orlando Stadium at the weekend, EFF leader Julius Malema ended his speech with a call on the ANC to name the airport after her. Malema said if the ANC was serious about honouring maWinnie and her legacy, then they would name the mother city’s airport after her.
Malema’s comments caused social media to erupt, and some took to amending the Cape Town International Airport’s Wikipedia page.
His plea was also acknowledged by the government, with the official government account tweeting: “Julius Malema leaves the podium by challenging SA Government to rename the Cape Town Int Airport after Winnie Mandela.”
ANC provincial spokesperson Yonela Diko said the party would welcome the renaming, as long as it involved public participation.
Diko said renaming an airport was a “grand gesture” that both Mandela and Madikizela-Mandela were worthy of.
“(Malema’s) comments were not an instruction to provincial or national government. It was a sentiment that he expressed that it’s time to honour MaWinnie,” Diko said.
On renaming CTIA to Nelson Mandela International Airport, Diko said: “It’s important for public to be involved in the process, I don’t know how they arrived at the chosen name, but it’s not a suggestion we would object to. We welcome it.”