IT WAS INEVITABLE THAT IT WOULD HAPPEN AND NOW IT HAS.  TODAY, THE 29th JUNE 2018, THE MINISTER OF ARTS & CULTURE GAZETTED A NOTICE IN THE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE THAT GRAHAMSTOWN WILL IN FUTURE BE KNOWN AS GRAHAMSTOWN.  THE MINISTER’S STATEMENT IS FULL OF DISTORTIONS AND HE MAKES IT SOUND AS IF THE CHANGE IS A FAIT ACCOMPLI BUT PLEASE DON’T  BE FOOLED, IT IS NOTHING OF THE SORT AS MUCH AS THEY WOULD LIKE YOU TO BELIEVE IT.   HERE’S THE KGG’s STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE MINISTER’S ANNOUNCEMENT.

“GRAHAMSTOWN NAME CHANGE :  KEEP GRAHAMSTOWN GRAHAMSTOWN (KGG) RESPONDS

Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown (KGG) notes with astonishment the decision of the Minister of Arts & Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, to Gazette the name change of Grahamstown to Makhanda.

The Minister’s statement announcing the decision is riddled with factual errors as regards the process which led the South African Geographic Names Council (SAGNC) to recommend the name change to the Minister, and the notice is itself fatally defective.

The decision is also in conflict with the SA Constitution in that is motivated by a spirit of retribution rather than reconciliation.  It also contradicts one of the SAGNC’s own key guiding principles that existing names should not be changed but should rather be retained as part of the nation’s cultural fabric.

The latest process which culminated in the SAGNC’s decision to recommend the name change was not conducted in conjunction with the local municipality as the statement claims but was conducted independently of the local municipality by the Eastern Cape Provincial Geographic Names Committee (ECGPNC).

It was also not a proper process in that it comprised a single meeting in a single venue attended by fewer than 100 persons representing one small section of the community.

The statement also refers to “public engagements” conducted by the local municipality since 2012.  In fact three thorough public consultation processes were conducted by the Makana local authority in conjunction with the ECPGNC between 2007 and 2012 and the outcome of each of those processes was overwhelmingly not in favour of changing the name of Grahamstown.

This led the ECPGNC, in pursuit of its stated mission to change all colonial names throughout the Eastern Cape, to take matters into its own hands by conducting its own fast-track “process” from late 2015.

In doing so the ECPGNC acted completely independently of the local municipality contrary to what is claimed in the statement.

By so doing, the ECPGNC and the SAGNC ignored the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal on the issue of the renaming of Louis Trichardt to Makado which clearly defined what constitutes a proper consultation process.

The manner in which the latest “process” was conducted by the ECPGNC and the SAGNC does not nearly meet the requirements as set down the Supreme Court of Appeal and is unlawful.

The recommendation by the ECPGNC and SAGNC and the Minister’s decision to gazette the name change completely ignore public opinion on the issue and both the Minister’s statement and the government notice itself fail to mention that in terms of the relevant legislation, persons have 30 days to object to the proposed name change.  As such the notice is fatally defective and is of no force or effect as was the case with the announcement of the name change of Queenstown more than a year ago to which no one has paid any attention.

Those who are not in favour of the name change are nevertheless urged to address their objections to the Minister of Arts & Culture within the 30 day period.  KGG will itself be doing so on behalf of the more than 6000 objectors whose opinions it represents.

Subject to the Minister’s final decision, a legal challenge against the name change will also be launched in due course and success is a foregone conclusion.”

THE KGG WILL SHORTLY POST ITS OBJECTION TO THE MINISTER OF ARTS & CULTURE.  ONCE WE HAVE DONE SO PLEASE WRITE TO THE MINISTER ON THE ADDRESS WHICH WE WILL PROVIDE SUPPORTING THE OBJECTION AND ADDING ANY COMMENTS OF YOUR OWN.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR KEEP GRAHAMSTOWN GRAHAMSTOWN.