SPEECH BY COUNCILLOR PIETER DE NECKER

PROPOSED RENAMING OF PRETORIA

Monday 7 March 2005

 

 

Thank you Mr. Speaker,

 

Today will be a day on which the eyes of not just the people of this City, but also the people of this Nation will be focused on our deliberations.  We will hear and see what is really in the hearts of the City Fathers.  Are we pro-transformation, pro-development, pro-nation building, pro-reconciliation and pro-stability?

 

The African Christian Democratic Party has since the outset of the renaming of Pretoria debate indicated that we are not in favour of such a move.  We based our reasons on the following:

 

It was based on these arguments that the ACDP registered our opposition to the proposed name change.  To this effect the ACDP prepared a petition signed by more that 20,000 people which we planned to table to Parliament should the Council decided to apply that the name be changed.

 

With that as history and in the back of our minds, we critically looked at the Report prepared by the City of Tshwane Renaming Task Team.

 

Overall we welcome this report and believe that it comprehensive and to the point.  However the sample values used are fairly small and we believe that one should be careful to draw reliable conclusions from this.  When we supported the commissioning of the report a while ago, it was with the hope of gaining a better understanding of the back-ground and history of the name Tshwane and also that of Pretoria.

 

As we now consider the way forward, we believe that reconciliation and nation-building should be the foundation.  Therefore the ACDP support the proposal that the name City of Tshwane be registered as a place name for the entire area under the jurisdiction of the CTMM.

 

Whilst at the same time we support the retention of the name Pretoria for the townships Pretoria, Pretoria Gardens, Pretoria North and Pretoria West as well as the collective name for the broader area which formed part of the erstwhile City Council of Pretoria.

 

In saying this we are of the opinion that in the spirit of reconciliation, to wipe colonial history off the table would be wrong.  Yet, it is important and vital that we look at, and embrace the pre-colonial history of our country.  Just like former presidents de Klerk and Mandela needed each other in receiving the Nobel peace prize, we need both.

 

It is also important to not just embrace our different histories, but also to acknowledge our diversity.  It is under the umbrella of The City of Tshwane that the diversity of places such as Pretoria, Marabastad, Mamelodi, Centurion, Ga-Rakuwa, the Moot etc. can exist.  It is in the National motto of our Country, as found in the coat of arms “!ke e:/xarra //ke” – meaning “Unity in Diversity” that we will make this city a renowned African Capital City.

 

When reading through this report, I could not help to stand still and reflect on what is written on page 46.  Third paragraph in the middle, and I quote:

“Exclusion soon turned into official government policy as Africans were “Excluded from the electoral process:, and in 1858, the constitution by which the Transvaal Republics were governed, which included Pretoria, stated that “there will be no equality between Natives and Whites, neither in Church nor in State.”

Mr. Speaker, as Christian, as a follower of Jesus Christ who taught His Church that in Him there is neither Jew, nor Greek or Gentile, neither male nor female, neither slave nor free,  I want to state that it was a sin for the Church to be indoctrinated by the government and for allowing this.  And today, on behalf of the Christians who voted for the ACDP, I want to apologise to both sides of the house, to both White, Black, Coloured and Indian, Christian and non-Christian for this sin of the Church and ask for forgiveness.

 

When looking at the Street name report, we again believe that we need to embrace transformation, but in the spirit of nation-building.  We support the idea to change certain street names in our city, yet not all the names mentioned in this report need to be changed.  It would be good to retain the name of Pretorius street, which was named after Martinus Wessel Pretorius, son of Andries Pretorius.  Running parallel to Pretorius street is Schoeman street, let us consider renaming that to Chief Tshwane street, having the colonial and the pre-colonial running alongside each other.  This is reconciliation and nation building.

 

We do not see the need to change the name of Church street or even that of Paul Kruger.  But in general we are of the opinion that the report and amendments are in order.

 

It is the younger generation in this Council, the Pillays, Michaels, van Rensburgs, Ramakgopas and de Neckers that will in 50 years time have to defend the decisions taken today.  Whether you are an Afrikaner, Xhoza, Zulu or Indian – male or female. 

 

Let the decisions we take today reflect reconciliation to the people of the City, our Country and the World.

 

Thank you.