Pretoria name change 'to divert attention'
Pretoria - The Freedom Front Plus voiced disappointment at Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa's comments that Pretoria will be renamed Tshwane irrespective of the cost or opposition to the move, saying it believed the name change issue was a political smokescreen to divert attention away from service delivery issues.
"The mayor had at the time of his inauguration undertaken not to focus on an emotional issue such as the changing of names, but rather on service delivery," said Tshwane spokesperson Conrad Beyers.
"Now that he is experiencing criticism with regards to service delivery, he is trying to cover it up by falling back on populist sentiments of the ANC."
Beyers said it was ironic that Ramokgopa had made these "polarising statements" at Freedom Park, which was intended as a monument to reconciliation.
While the FF+ believed a settlement on the name change was possible, Ramokgopa's rhetoric would "force all parties back to the political trenches".
The Pretoria News quoted Ramokgopa as saying that Pretoria's name change and the name changes of 21 streets would happen before the end of 2012.
"We are going to be resolute and stubborn in ensuring that our history is recorded correctly because our brave heroes paid the ultimate price," he said.
He spoke on Monday at the unveiling of the names of 13 victims - who were shot dead during a 1985 protest against high rents - on the city's Wall of Names at Freedom Park.
Ramokgopa said he did not care about what the media reported about the costs related to the name changes as no amount of money was too much for "recording history correctly".