‘Winnie’ in running for Cape Town airport name

Police officers are seen at the Cape Town International Airport. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

Julius Malema and the EFF have stepped up their campaign to get Cape Town International Airport renamed after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

On Tuesday, it was revealed by the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) that a public participation meeting will be held next week as part of the plans to rename the airport.

Minister of transport Blade Nzimande has confirmed that proposals have been received to rename the airport after one of the four struggle icons Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Madikizela-Mandela or Robert Sobukwe.

In an official notice, Acsa said a public participation meeting would be held at the airport on Monday, June 4, at 6pm.

“Acsa Cape Town International will be undergoing a name change as part of the Transformation of Heritage Landscape government programme,” the notice read.

The announcement was followed by tweets from both Julius Malema’s official Twitter account and his party’s, urging their supporters to submit proposals and comments. The tweet has garnered quite a reaction, with many of their followers tweeting they had “played their part” by sending in proposals.

Malema first mentioned the idea at the late struggle icon’s memorial service. It immediately struck a chord among many people on social media, who felt it would be a suitable honour for the woman dubbed “the mother of the nation”.

The symbolic value of naming the airport after a female struggle icon has also been mentioned. Others have dismissed the idea as a waste of money and resources, although whether or not those who hold this view know the airport is already destined to be renamed is unclear.

There are also some who see Madikizela-Mandela as a controversial figure and oppose the rename for that reason.

The EFF commander-in-chief and Madikizela-Mandela’s relationship was one of mutual support and respect. She was a symbolic and real-life mother figure to him both before and after his exit from the ANC.

Some have asserted that she was mistreated by the ANC as well as the subject of a plot by the apartheid government to discredit her.

An award-winning documentary by Pascale Lamche, Winnie, which was released before her death but became a matter of wide public discourse when it was broadcast shortly after her death on eNCA, contains evidence of both these allegations.

Among the allegations made in the documentary is that the ANC gave Nelson Mandela an ultimatum to divorce her or lose the presidency.

While Nelson Mandela was once widely considered a liberator and a hero beyond reproach, the idea that he sold out the struggle against apartheid by making concessions that granted the majority of South Africans political freedom without financial freedom is increasingly popular.

Madikizela-Mandela herself seemed to support this view. In 2010 she was quoted in a UK newspaper, saying: “Mandela let us down. He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks. Economically, we are still on the outside. The economy is very much white. It has a few token blacks, but so many who gave their life in the struggle have died unrewarded.”

At the time of going to print, Airports Company South Africa were unavailable for comment.

danielf@citizen.co.za

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