Pretoria name change will go ahead – Ramokgopa

2016-04-22 07:19
Kgosientso Ramokgopa (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Kgosientso Ramokgopa (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Pretoria – The Pretoria name change will go ahead in order to build social cohesion, the city's mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, said on Thursday.

“With regards to the name change we have done public consultations and reviews in council and a resolution was taken that Tshwane should be the municipal name,” Ramokgopa said after delivering his state of the city address at Freedom Park.

“The person who has the last say is the national minister of arts and culture and we are still waiting for that. We are confident that it will favour the people because we are able to show everyone that it has gone through required procedures.”

Ramokgopa said the move was to ensure social cohesion and indicated that the majority of people in the city agreed with the change. He said those opposed to it were against transformation.

“I don’t know of anyone who would want to repudiate this transformation agenda. I think it’s a route that all of us have to embrace and in that way learn to build a better future. What must preoccupy us is whether our spaces are safe and whether government is responsive,” he said.

Valhalla uproar

Ramokgopa added that the recent uproar over the construction of a mosque in Valhalla was similar to the name change. He said it was a minority group that was opposed to the construction despite the majority agreeing to the move.

“The recent noises with regards to the building of the mosque are a case in point. There is a demographic change where there are over 200 Muslim families who simply requested council for a place of worship.

"We subjected that to public consultation and the verdict came back and majority said they were happy as long as we addressed the issue of noise pollution,” Ramokgopa said.

He said they took into consideration the many objections raised during public consultation meetings, with the biggest one being of noise pollution. He said those who had protested at the occasion of the signing of the Deed of Donation with the beneficiaries had intentions of keeping Valhalla free of members of the Indian community in general and Muslims.

“We presented that as a condition and the Muslim community agreed and said there would not be a public call for prayer. The people who worship there will have transmitters in their house and it will only be them who will get notifications.

"We have eliminated what appeared to be a major objection but then there is still a splinter group that says they must go. Where must they go? This is where they stay and work. Everyone must be accommodated and we will create those spaces,” he said.

Foster social cohesion

Ramokgopa said they would continue to engage those who want to resist the construction to a certain extent but they were focusing on creating a non-racial South Africa. He said the allocation of land to religious groups would not end with the land in Valhalla.

In order to foster social cohesion and undermine the effects of, among others, the Natives’ Land Act and the Group Areas Act, the city had continued to donate land parcels to faith-based organisations, he said.

During his address, Ramokgopa said the city had donated over 170 parcels of land measuring in excess of 861 000m² to the religious community, as an important stakeholder in the fight against moral degeneration, drug and substance abuse, crime and corruption.

“The democratic project and our drive towards spatial justice enjoins us to ensure that no space within the city’s boundaries is designated a racially exclusive enclave for any particular racial group.

"We have also donated several land portions to the Zion Christian Church, that is the ZCC, and we will be finalising donations to the St Engenas Zion Christian Church, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church and the St Johns’ Apostolic Church," said Ramokgopa.

"In the recent past, we delivered a number of title deeds to churches including the International Assemblies of God in Mamelodi and we will be attending to several churches across the length and breadth of Tshwane to effect the same."

Read more on:    kgosientso ramokgopa  |  pretoria  |  name changes  |  local government

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