By Siyabonga Maphumulo

In less than two months the names of no fewer than 181 streets, buildings and freeways across the city could be changed to "commemorate noteworthy persons associated with the city and South Africa".

This is if a report from the Masakhane, Grants-in-Aid, Non Discrimination and Non Sexism committee, containing the progress of phase two of the city's street and building renaming exercise receives favourable consideration from council.

In a list due to be advertised in the local press shortly, it is proposed that Durban’s famous West Street be renamed in honour of either the late uMkhontoweSizwe cadre Patrick Molaoa, eMakheni Street, Dr Pixley kaSeme, or after slain SACP Secretary-General Chris Hani.

Also up for review is Smith Street, which it is proposed be changed to Ma Adelaide Tambo Street, Anton Lembede or Moses Mabhida. Field Street will in all likelihood be renamed after Joe Slovo. Some of the city's suburbs such as Greyville, Musgrave, Pinetown and Umhlanga will also be affected. It is proposed that the City Hall be renamed after Nelson Mandela or Felix Dlamini.

The Mangosuthu Highway in Umlazi would possibly be renamed after the late human rights lawyer Griffiths Mxenge. IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was quoted as likening the city renamings to Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-Tsung's cultural revolution, implying that history was being rewritten to favour the ruling party.

The Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu, named after Buthelezi’s mother will become known as the Dumisane Makhaye Stadium. The Chairman of the Masakhane Committee, Zandile Gumede, said the names were a response (from the public) to the municipality's call for proposals for the renaming of roads, streets and buildings.

"In early March the municipality ran adverts in local newspapers calling the public to put forward proposals. The closing date for submissions was 30 March but a few submissions were considered even after this date."

Disqualified

Gumede said a total of 245 proposals were received but some were disqualified as they did not meet the set criteria. She said the public would be given an opportunity to comment, and concerns regarding the names, which would then be reviewed by a task team and then sent to the executive committee. The proposed names have already drawn the first murmurs of dissatisfaction from opposition parties.

The IFP, which had previously threatened to march against the renamings, remained silent throughout the meeting and abstained from voting on whether the city manager should be authorised to advertise the proposed names.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party would await the tabling of the matter at Exco before it takes an official stance on the matter.