By Siyabonga Maphumulo

The ANC and smaller parties at council this week reaffirmed that consultation with ward committees on the proposed renamings of streets and buildings in the eThekwini area would continue until June 2007.

This was after the tabling of a report from the Masakhane, Grants-in-Aid, Non-Racism, Non-Sexism and Non- Discrimination committee seeking permission to amend the renaming policy to allow ward committees to input into the process.

Opposition parties chiefly the DA, IFP and MF, dissented saying that council could not amend a policy while a process was underway. They called for a revamp of the renaming process in its entirety as it had been "characterized by blunders and majoritarian arrogance".

The parties also called for the formation of a new task team comprising legal experts, geographers and historians to drive the consultation process.

The Minority Front's Jayraj Singh accused the ruling party of being power drunk in its approach to the renamings.

In response the ANC said the 30-day extension to the original deadline was to afford the public further opportunity to comment and make fresh proposals.

"Consultation did occur and we canvassed the views of all political parties and the public and we are still continuing to do so," said ANC councillor Stanley Xulu.

He said enough time had already been wasted and the move by opposition parties fell nothing short of tactics aimed at further delaying the process.

Exco member S'bu Gumede seconded him. He said the renaming process was legitimate and described those opposed to it as speaking "aMangoSuthu," implying that opposition parties were levelling false accusations against the ANC by saying that the process was flawed.

The IFP however took offense to this statement saying Gumede deliberately sought to degrade their party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi by using his name in that context. The party later staged a walkout after Gumede refused to retract his statement, instead saying that he had expressed himself "in proper iSiZulu".

Masakhane Chairperson Zandile Gumede said the ANC was not using its majority at council to unfairly disadvantage minority parties.

"The process is not being bulldozed. All concerned persons were given opportunities to participate and we are now ensuring that they are being given a further chance to make submissions," she said.

The IFP, DA and MF all voted against the amendment of the policy adopted, earlier this year. According to the amendment, all submissions received up to 23 June will be considered by a task team of municipal officials and then presented to the Masakhane
Committee.

MaphumuloSiya@durban.gov.za