Name changes

A majority of these latest name changes are in one local municipality – Photo: Flickr / Diverse Stock Photos

Name changes in Free State towns hit hurdles

During a parliamentary question and answer last week, the department said the progress on name changes in Free State is going slow.

Name changes

A majority of these latest name changes are in one local municipality – Photo: Flickr / Diverse Stock Photos

The department acknowledged the slow pace of name changes in the Free State during a parliamentary question and answer last week.

In response, the South African Geographical Names Council organized an awareness campaign in Bloemfontein on 28 June, 2023, according to Business Tech.

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All district municipalities and the Provincial Geographical Names Committee received guidance on the process for proposing changes to street, town, and city names.

The department explained that the process involves consulting with local communities. They live-streamed an awareness workshop in the Free State to emphasize the urgency of transforming South Africa’s naming landscape.

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Despite these efforts, proposals for changes in the province are lacking. The department attributes this to municipalities prioritizing pressing service delivery issues over naming transformations.

The South African Geographical Names Act 118 of 1998 doesn’t allow the national government to actively suggest changes.

The minister decides on names submitted by applicants. Local communities prioritize service delivery over naming landscape transformation.

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Budget cuts hinder major awareness campaigns on radio, TV, and social media.

The changes in South Africa stir controversy and are criticised for diverting funds from pressing issues. The department sees it as a crucial heritage transformation.

Critics argue that changes, despite their costs, don’t relieve community pressures and are seen as a political tool without tangible benefits.

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For instance, renaming William Nicol was praised as a success, yet Johannesburg faces crumbling infrastructure and unstable leadership.

In recent years, South Africa has witnessed significant changes, mainly in the Eastern Cape, with 103 geographical name changes since 2019.

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