The Congress of SA Trade Unions is opposed to the naming of Cape Town’s Table Bay Boulevard after former president FW de Klerk, the federation said on Thursday.
Provincial secretary of Cosatu in the Western Cape, Tony Ehrenreich, said the City of Cape Town compared De Klerk and former president Nelson Mandela, insisting that his public exposure around street names was the same as Mandela’s.
“The reality is that Mandela was a liberator of the people of South Africa and a man who aspired to undo the legacy of apartheid… De Klerk on the other hand was an architect of apartheid and responsible for implementing a system that brutally oppressed the majority.”
The city said on Wednesday that Table Bay Boulevard may be renamed FW de Klerk Boulevard if the Cape Town council accepted a proposal by the city’s naming committee.
“This proposal complies with the city’s naming policy which states that citizens of Cape Town and South Africa may be considered in their lifetime if they have received international recognition of the highest kind,” councillor Brett Herron said in a statement.
Herron said the former president fell within that category.
Frederik Willem de Klerk, 79, was president from September 1989 to May 1994. He was the last head of state of South Africa under the apartheid era.
In 1993 he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with struggle icon Mandela for their role in ending apartheid.
De Klerk was in favour of the idea provided the street that was to be named after him had a neutral name, his foundation reportedly told the committee.
Herron said the final decision was up to the council.
“Residents, roleplayers, interested parties and community organisations were invited to air their views,” Herron said.
This was done over 30 days, from October 1 to 31, 2014, he said.
The decision to propose De Klerk’s name followed a written request by prominent residents of Cape Town to mayor Patricia De Lille and the city council in June last year.
The 27 signatories included Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Western Cape premier Helen Zille.
According to the proposal it was opportune for the city to recognise De Klerk’s role in the transition to a new dispensation in South Africa.
Ehrenreich said De Klerk was “an accident of history”, who just happened to be the leader of the National Party and was forced to negotiate with the ANC.
He said the city should focus on improving service delivery, rather than wasting time and money elevating De Klerk and the Democratic Alliance.
De Klerk on Wednesday said he was honoured that Table Bay Boulevard may be renamed FW de Klerk Boulevard.
“I am honoured and touched by the decision of the City of Cape Town’s naming committee to recommend the renaming of Table Bay Boulevard in my honour,” he said in a statement.
“I would sincerely like to thank all those — including many prominent residents of the Cape — who have supported this initiative.” SAPA