The eThekwini Municipality’s Masakhane, Grants-in-Aid, Non-Racism, Non-Sexism and Non-Discrimination committee has extended the deadline for submissions of comments on the city’s renaming policy to 23 June 2007.

At a multi-party meeting today, the committee agreed that the public be allowed a further period of 30 days to submit comments and proposals on the renaming of streets and buildings in the city.

The decision comes after weeks of intense public debate after the Council released a list of proposed name changes which came after a month-long consultative process.
Council Speaker James Nxumalo said a bilateral meeting with different political parties yesterday had led to the recommendation to extend the deadline.
“We want to ensure that the process is participatory, something we have tried to ensure from the start, and therefore urge the public to send their comments and proposals which will then be reviewed by our Task Team.”

Councillor Zandile Gumede who chairs the Masakhane Committee said: “In addition to the 181 proposals already received, the public, ward committees and political parties will be given a chance to submit new proposals.” She said that although the deadline for submissions had been 31 May 2007, this had been extended after it was found that many people had not been aware that they could submit proposals for the renaming and that ward committees had been newly formed at the time and were therefore not sufficiently consulted on the process.
Opposition parties at council welcomed the extension but voiced concern on the procedure of the renamings.

“A lot of the problems had to do with the rushed manner but we support the recommendation to extend the deadline,” said DA caucus leader John Steenhuisen. Gumede said the ANC was not going to use 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. All comments and new proposals are to be sent to City Manager Michael Sutcliffe.