Date set for Nelspruit name-change showdown

2013-06-07 12:08

A date has been set for the showdown between business and government over the renaming of Mpumalanga’s capital city, Nelspruit.

In 2009, government gazetted Mbombela as the new name for the city – and the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (LCBT) has been protesting ever since.

The matter has now found its way to court, and will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on August 26 and August 27.

LCBT spokesperson Linda Grimbeek said: “It’s not that going to court was the only way to resolve this, but once there’s a gazette, it’s only the high court that can set it aside.”

The LCBT has collected 23 000 signatures of residents opposed to the name change. It claims the renaming process will be too costly for businesses and accuses the Mpumalanga Geographical Names Committee of having failed to conduct thorough consultation with business.

“The signatures gave us a mandate to represent the whole community, so this is not a case of business fighting government,” Grimbeek said.

Spokesperson for Mpumalanga’s Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation, Sibongile Nkosi, said that the department would defend their decision to change Nelspruit to Mbombela.

Grimbeek, however, said that a LCBT study found that if the name was to be changed it would cost businesses R350 million.

Mbombela municipality, she said, would have to increase rates and taxes by 60% in order to effect the name change.

The costs will be incurred because of having to change signage, general plans, title deeds, registered bonds, websites and marketing materials of businesses, government departments and parastatals.

The other reasons LCBT put forward for opposing the new name are that:

» Nelspruit is only one suburb of the Mbombela local municipality, and renaming Nelspruit to Mbombela will cause unnecessary confusion;

» Nelspruit is not a politically offensive name;

» Nelspruit as a brand is worth millions, especially after the marketing campaigns before and during the 2010 Fifa World Cup; and

» Payroll programmes, Wikipedia and encyclopaedia-type websites, Google Maps and Google Earth will have to be amended.

- City Press

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