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Home >> World
UPDATED: 13:55, May 21, 2005
South African former president against renaming Pretoria
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Former South African president FW de Klerk on Friday came out against the renaming of Pretoria, saying such a move would be contrary to the notion of reconciliation.

He said in a statement "there appears to be an increasing tendency to excise the history and traditions of minorities from our emerging national identity."

"The spirit of compromise, inclusivity, consultation and reconciliation ... has been replaced by a new insistence on imposing majority agendas and symbols on the whole country -- including its minorities," he added.

The metro council of the capital city wants the metropolitan area renamed to Tshwane, with the name Pretoria retained for the city center only. Moves are currently underway to register Tshwaneas a place name with the South Africa Geographical Names Council.

De Klerk said Pretoria had a central and honorable place in South Africa's history. "It is the symbol of the anti-colonial war that Afrikaners fought against the British Empire -- which was one of Africa's earliest liberation struggles."

"I accordingly call on the government to reconsider its decision," he urged.

Changes to accommodate the traditions of black South Africans were necessary, said the former president. However, where such changes were at the expense of other communities genuine consultations should be held.

This appeared not to have happened in this case, resulting in what De Klerk described as "a sense of community grievance."

He added "we must find ways of dealing with these issues such as this in a manner that will build national unity and not result in community alienation."

A protest march against the proposed name change is to be held in Pretoria on Saturday.

Source: Xinhua

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