Row over Blyde name change

NelspruitNelspruit - Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk is being urged to prevent a "potential tourism disaster" after the renaming of Mpumalanga's Blyde River was bungled.

The river gives its name to the world famous Blyde River Canyon and was recently renamed "Motlatse" without consulting local tourism or conservation authorities.

The word "Motlatse" is also meaningless. The closest equivalent would be the sePedi word "Motlatsa," which means "a river that is always full".

Democratic Alliance leader in the national council of provinces, Watty Watson, expressed concern that the only reason the river's name was changed, was because it was Afrikaans.

He said: "Such a senseless name change is not only an insult to Afrikaans and to the history of our country."

Bad for tourism

Voortrekker women named the river Blyde, meaning joy, when their husbands returned safely from an expedition to find a route to Lourenco Marques in 1840 under the leadership of Hendrik Potgieter.

The women earlier named another river Treur, meaning sorrow, when they thought their husbands had died.

Watson said the name change would also negatively affect the local tourism industry.

The Blyde River Canyon is the third-largest canyon in the world and the fourth most visited tourism site, drawing a million tourists a year.

Neither the Mpumalanga Tourism Authority, nor the Mpumalanga Parks Board were consulted during the name change process.

NCOP to debate its role

Watson said: "The expenses to be incurred in effecting these and further contemplated changes, can be utilised more productively to promote rather than to run down tourism."

He said the DA would ask Van Schalkwyk to intervene and prevent a potential tourism disaster, while the NCOP would be urged to debate its role in name changes.

Watson said: "Name changes of provincial assets are most certainly matters of public interest and the DA believes that the NCOP has a role to fulfil to ensure legitimate name changes."

Chair of Mpumalanga's Geographical Names Committee, John Skhosana, has admitted that "Motlatse" was misspelled and said language experts from the Pan South African Language Board would be consulted.

The committee is mandated to change names that are misspelled, incorrectly translated or offensive.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Children between 12 and 17 can now be vaccinated against Covid-19. As a parent I am:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Relieved, it's been a long wait to this point
51% - 2790 votes
A bit hesitant, and will wait to see how it goes
21% - 1158 votes
Completely against my child getting the shot
29% - 1575 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.85
-1.2%
Rand - Pound
20.49
-0.4%
Rand - Euro
17.30
-0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.09
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.1%
Gold
1,793.05
0.0%
Silver
24.33
0.0%
Palladium
2,023.00
0.0%
Platinum
1,043.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
85.53
+1.1%
Top 40
60,525
+1.7%
All Share
67,051
+1.5%
Resource 10
62,969
+2.5%
Industrial 25
86,659
+1.4%
Financial 15
13,849
+0.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE