The political powers of this province never cease to amaze me. They never seem to fall short of coming up with new and outrageous ways to enrage the public at large.
It came as a bolt from the blue for me to learn that our very own Umjindi Local Municipality will finally cease to be known by that name after the local government elections on August 3.
Its new name will be the City of Mbombela. That was the announcement made by your “honorable member” MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Refilwe Mtsweni last Thursday at a harshly organised “first -ever” media briefing regarding the process to amalgamate the two local municipalities – Umjindi and Mbombela.
The issue of the merging has been drawing fierce criticism from a vast majority of locals in the past.
Yes, it is not the first municipalities to be merged over the two decades since democracy dawned in this country – it’s happened to few of them.
Sometimes these processes were painless, sometimes violent as we had seen in Tlokwe Local Municipality’s proposed merger with the Ventersdorp Local Municipality.
And as if the issue of merging the two – Umjindi with Mbombela – was not good enough to enrage the local residents, now here comes the name-change matter.
It appears that there was once again a lack of public participation regarding the issue. I’m quite surprised to learn that very few residents, young and old and from various cultural and races backgrounds, living in the vicinity of Umjindi, are not aware of the name change.
Some of the people I spoke to, who were aware of the merging of Umjindi and Mbombela, had no idea what the new proposed name for the new entity was. So what does that tell us?
As Umjindi residents we have become part of citizens of this country where name changes are as commonplace as unroadworthy venture taxis.
The name Umjindi is part of my history. And I don’t want it to be deleted.
This is why I resist, and will continue to resist, referring to Umjindi as City of Mbombela.