Virginia Keppler
2 minute read
23 Dec 2016
5:41 am

Don’t name Union Buildings after Madiba, urge residents

Virginia Keppler

This after ANC veteran Sipho Pityana called for the Union Buildings to be renamed after the late Nelson Mandela.

A father and his children is seen posing for a picture with the Nelson Mandela Statue in the background, 21 December 2016, Union Buildings, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The name, Union Buildings, has nothing to do with apartheid and should be left standing. This is the view of people who visited the buildings recently.

While most people spoke off the record because “we’re not politicians and we’re scared of any comebacks”, some said the name should remain.

They said enough places and street names have been named after the first democratic president Nelson Mandela.

ANC veteran and convener of the Save South Africa campaign, Sipho Pityana, recently called for the Union Buildings to be renamed after Mandela.

He said South Africans should not continue to live with symbols of an oppressive past overshadowing the diverse and inclusive future that they seek to build as a new society.

READ MORE: Sipho Pityana wants Union Buildings to be named after Mandela 

Pityana’s remarks provoked much talk around Pretoria.

Jeminah Mhlongo from Pretoria said: “The name reminds us of the past. My understanding is if you don’t know where you are coming from, you will not know where you are going to.

“I think the name should remain for the next coming generation to also know where we are coming from.”

Mhlongo added that South Africans need to change their mindsets and understand that this was the place where serious matters were supposed to be discussed.

“Those who want to choose the Union Buildings and the name issue for the wrong reasons are not doing us justice.”

Danie Oberholtzer said the Union Buildings got its name long before apartheid.

“The name comes just after the Boer War and that is where the ‘Unie’ comes from,” he said.

“We will also have to look at all the cost just to change the name. We have to look at the bigger picture.

“[People] should, instead, focus on the disadvantaged and build houses because so many people are still living in shacks. [People] should leave the name changes and rather focus on building up the nation.”

Masindi Ndidzulafhi said there was a lot of history behind the Union Buildings.

“For instance, the women marched to the Union Buildings in 1956. The name does not refer to any apartheid name.

“[People] must keep the name to preserve this part of the history for our children and grandchildren,” he said.

“There are a lot of places, streets named after Nelson Mandela, so I honestly think that is enough. The Union Buildings should not be replaced with the name Nelson Mandela.

“We love him and we honour his legacy, but the Union Buildings cannot be named after Nelson Mandela.”

Birnadette Lottering agreed with Ndidzulafhi and said enough places were named after Nelson Mandela.

“There is even the Nelson Mandela Bridge.

“Everybody knows where the Union Buildings are. If we rename it, people would just be lost.”

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