Johannesburg’s Roads and Transport MMC, Kenny Kunene, has staunchly defended the expenditure associated with renaming William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive. The City of Johannesburg allocated approximately R250,000 for the renaming process. This budget encompassed the promotion of the name alteration, the public engagement process, and the installation of new street signage.
The Price of Reconciliation
Responding to those who criticised the amount spent on the renaming, Kunene emphasised that the change was long overdue.
“The pain of South Africans cannot be quantified in monetary terms. Reconciliation isn’t a one-sided affair. To truly address the scars of apartheid, it’s imperative to erase the names of its architects and enforcers, those responsible for the suffering and trauma of our people,” Kunene articulated.
He further expressed his discontent with significant landmarks in the city and nation being named after apartheid proponents like Hendricks Verwoerd, Louis Botha, and Jan van Riebeeck, among others.
Kunene hinted at the potential renaming of places bearing Paul Kruger’s name, such as in the South African National Parks.
“It’s an anomaly that we, as a nation, honour our oppressors through the naming of streets, towns, and pivotal sites. I’m committed to initiating this change, beginning with the City of Johannesburg,” he declared.
Additionally, the Patriotic Alliance’s deputy leader mentioned the party’s intention to propose a name change for Louis Botha Drive in the West Rand.
EFF’s Role in the Renaming
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) asserted that they were instrumental in championing the renaming of William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive. This was achieved through a motion that received the green light from the City of Johannesburg Council.
“In tribute to your unwavering bravery against the oppressive apartheid system, the EFF has ardently advocated for the renaming of William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive. This motion received the City of Johannesburg Council’s endorsement. The official unveiling of the newly named drive is scheduled for today,” the EFF stated.
The party also highlighted its consistent reverence for Mama Winnie, noting the second anniversary of their headquarters’ inauguration, named the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela House. This establishment, located in Johannesburg’s CBD, was renamed in 2021 and is described as the epicentre of their revolutionary efforts for economic freedom.
“The Winnie Madikizela-Mandela House stands as the heart of our revolution for economic emancipation and will continue to serve as a sanctuary for the downtrodden and impoverished,” the party affirmed.
In a previous statement, EFF’s deputy leader, Floyd Shivambu, took a swipe at the ANC, accusing them of riding on the EFF’s coattails.
“It’s evident that the ANC is basking in the EFF’s accomplishments. The truth remains: The renaming of William Nicol Drive to Winnie Mandela Drive was a result of the EFF’s motion in the City of Johannesburg. It’s disheartening, however, to see the ANC’s previous disregard for Mama Nomzamo when we suggested renaming CTIA in her honour. The nation is poised to free itself from such double-dealers and opportunists in the coming year,” Shivambu remarked.