South Africa plans to change capital's name Whites protest council proposal to switch Pretoria to Tshwane
Friday, May 27, 2005 Posted: 0907 GMT (1707 HKT) JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- An official committee on Thursday approved changing the name of South Africa's capital to Tshwane from Pretoria, overriding protests by whites who say the switch was passed undemocratically.
The Geographical Names Council, which makes formal recommendations on changing place names deemed out of step with the country's multiracial democracy, voted to scrap the name Pretoria that was given to the city in 1855 in honor of an early white settler, the SAPA news agency reported.
Council Chairman Tommy Ntsewa, who chaired the meeting in the city of Bloemfontein, told SAPA the vote was unanimous.
The new name proposal will now go to Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, who is expected to approve it.
Hundreds of white South Africans have protested over the change that was approved earlier by Pretoria's City Council, dominated by the ruling African National Congress.
Critics have accused the city's ANC leaders of failing to consult broadly about the name and say money spent on changing signs and maps would be better used helping the poor.
Under the plan, Pretoria will refer to a small section of the city center and will be considered a suburb of the broader municipality to be known as Tshwane.
The seat of South Africa's government, the Union Buildings where Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the country's first black president in 1994 ending white rule, will no longer be a part of Pretoria, officials say.
The name change marks the highest profile effort by South African leaders to drop old place and street names that echo the country's colonial and apartheid-era past.
President Thabo Mbeki waded into the debate, citing the Eastern Cape college town of Grahamstown -- named after a 19th-century British commander who helped take control of the area -- as an example of a name that needed to be reconsidered.
"This place has got a name; it's called iRhini. But we celebrate a butcher!" Mbeki said in remarks in parliament.
Pretoria was named after Andries Pretorius, a leader of the Afrikaans-speaking settlers who trekked into the interior of the country to escape British rule.
The name Tshwane -- used for the past 10 years to refer to the greater metropolitan area around the city -- comes from a chief who ruled the area before the 19th-century white settlers.
Many government departments and the national broadcaster SABC already refer to the capital city as Tshwane, provoking the anger of white-dominated opposition parties and other groups.
Signs in the city center have been defaced, with Tshwane scribbled out and replaced with Pretoria. http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/05/26/safrica.capital.reut/index.html
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