National Assembly supports and reaffirms ACSA process on renaming airports

5 March 2019

Today the National Assembly adopted a resolution which supports and reaffirms the process undertaken by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), to rename four of South Africa’s Airports.

The amended resolution, as tabled by the ANC Chief Whip, “acknowledges that the ACSA has started a process, informed by the relevant legislation, which regulates the renaming of Cape Town International Airport” and “further acknowledges that the names of Mama Winnie, Mama Albertina Sisulu, Tata Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani, Krotoa, Robert Sobukwe, and Alex La Guma are already part of the ACSA renaming process.”

The House therefore resolved to “reaffirm and support the process undertaken by ACSA and the outcome of which will be submitted to the Geographical Names Council for further processing and finalisation.”

The ANC introduced the above amendments because the initial draft resolution brought forward by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on the renaming of Cape Town International Airport to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela International Airport was fundamentally misplaced for the following two reasons:

Firstly, Parliament is not constitutionally empowered to resolve on any name change, nor is it within its ambit to process the renaming of any institution or structure within the Republic. Rather, its Constitutional role is to make laws, pass the Budget, hold the Executive accountable, carry out oversight and ensure public participation takes place.

The renaming of the Cape Town International Airport is ceased with the South African Geographical Names Council which is empowered by the South African Geographical Names Council Act (1998), whose mandate is to establish the policies and principles for the naming of geographical features in South Africa; standardise the geographical names under its jurisdiction; and recommend standardised names to the Minister of Arts and Culture for approval.

Furthermore, their draft resolution circumvents the current legislative process that has been undertaken by ACSA through its public meetings on the very same matter in 2018. Therefore, Parliament attempting to usurp a process already undertaken by the relevant body does not bode well for upholding our Constitutional imperatives of public participation.

During these public meetings, South Africans come out in their numbers and proposed among other, the names of Mama Winnie, Mama Albertina Sisulu, Tata Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani, Krotoa, Robert Sobukwe, and Alex La Guma for consideration. The ANC respects and supports the ACSA process underway to find appropriate names changes for all four Airports, including the Cape Town International Airport.

We must however state our disappointment at the EFF for attempting to use Parliament to unduly influence a process which is already underway. All political parties, as some have already done, are well within their rights to participate in the process undertaken by ACSA.

Therefore, the amended resolution, as adopted by the National Assembly today ensures that the renaming of our Airports reflects an open, transparent, people-oriented and people-driven process as mandated by our Constitution and other relevant legislation.

Issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, comrade Jackson Mthembu.


Nonceba Mhlauli