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DA questions renaming Brandfort after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

"The Free State town of Brandfort is staggering under poor service delivery.

The DA has criticised the proposed move by the Free State government to rename towns in the province ahead of the local government elections.

The party said the move, which was announced by Free State MEC of Arts and Culture Limakatso Mahasa recently, may have not been based on sound principle but rather an electioneering move ahead of this year’s local government elections.

Mahasa said former struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela- Mandela would be honoured with the town of Brandfort being remanded after her. This is the same town Madikizela-Mandela spent years, in the 1970s, under house arrest.

The renaming was announced last week – which marked three years since Madikizela-Mandela’s death.

The veteran will also be honoured with a statue in the town, and the house she was placed in will soon be open as a museum after many years of delay.

Another area that will be renamed is Hoffman Square.

The DA on Sunday said the people who lived in the towns that would be renamed needed better services and that should be the priority of the government.

“The Free State is staggering under poor service delivery due to years of mismanagement. Residents in Brandfort have been struggling with poor services such as lack of water, poor sewerage management, a lack of roads maintenance and poor financial management by the Masilonyana Municipality for many years,” DA Free State MPL Roy Jankielsohn.

“Name change proposals shortly before elections create a legitimate impression that they are motivated by electoral politics instead of sound principles.”

Jankielsohn further said the name changes should take a variety of issues into consideration, such as whether the names were offensive or not.

He added that name changes should also be subjected to a public participation process.

Early this year, the DA criticised the move by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to rename several towns in the Eastern Cape which included changing Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha.

DA MP Veronica van Dyk said the party was concerned that there was no public participation process followed before the proposed name changes.

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