FW slams Pretoria rename bid

2005-05-20 23:15

Johannesburg - South African former president FW de Klerk blasted a move to rename Pretoria as Tshwane as an attempt to undermine the history and traditions of Afrikaners.

He said on Friday: "There appears to be an increasing tendency to excise the history and traditions of minorities from our emerging national identity.

"The spirit of compromise, inclusivity, consultation and reconciliation... has been replaced by a new insistence on imposing majority agendas and symbols on the whole country - including its minorities," he said.

Pretoria city council voted in March to change the name of the capital from Pretoria to Tshwane.

Pretoria was named after Andries Pretorius, who settled there with the Voortrekkers who left the Cape colony with ox-wagons in the 1830s and the second group to live in the area.

May 26 is D-Day for Pretoria

Pretoria mayor Smangaliso Mkhatshwa has argued that the name "Tshwane", which means "we are the same", will underscore South Africa's break with apartheid in 1994.

The South African Geographical Names Council is due to meet on May 26 and 27 to consider the city council's request that the name Pretoria on all maps be changed to Tshwane.

Council chairperson Thomas Ntsewa said he was hoping the body would then make a recommendation to Culture Minister Pallo Jordan about the name change.

De Klerk said Pretoria had a central role in South Africa's history.

"It is the symbol of the anti-colonial war that Afrikaners fought against the British Empire - which was one of Africa's earliest liberation struggles," he said.

"I accordingly call on the government to reconsider its decision."

Several groups opposed to the change were to stage a protest march in Pretoria on Saturday.