THE so-called public participation process concerning the Grahamstown name change was completed on Church Square on Saturday January 26. I am sure that the Grahamstown and indeed the Makana community would be interested in the statistics that the ANC proponents of the name change have collected during this latest round of consultations.
It should give an indication of the for and against of a name change for our city. However I doubt that it will.
The DA has stated on a number of occasions that the party is not against a name change for the city, but is concerned that the process being followed should be fair to all concerned. Our observations are that the process that has been followed to date by the ANC name change committee has not been fair to all concerned as the methodology of the interaction with the public has been flawed.
This was evidenced by the two "public meetings" recently held.
Most citizens, who are by and large not rabid activists, are not interested in listening to a small group of people pronouncing their views from a soap box but would much rather be granted the opportunity to express their views on the name change issue in a more structured and organised manner.
By doing it this way everybody has the chance of expressing an opinion on the name of their city as opposed to a name being foisted upon them by the current ruling party of the Makana Municipality.
The argument that the consultations with the public in 2008, including the production of videos recording the views of various individuals, was broad based and still valid today is incorrect. After four years that information is subscribed as the demography of Makana has changed in the intervening years.
Different circumstances and views prevail now as opposed to four years ago. In any case the name change intervention by the then ANC council was dropped as the previous information showed clearly that Makana residents were not in favour of a name change.
How should the name change issue be handled? The DA believes everyone should have a reasonable opportunity of expressing their view of whether there should be a name change or not.
This could be done by a Makana referendum organised by the municipality. This should not be difficult as referendum books can lie open at municipal offices or libraries for say two weeks which could receive an ID number and a yes or no for a name change.
This will afford everyone the opportunity to express an opinion. If it turns out that citizens did not take up this opportunity they cannot blame anybody for the results.
What is happening now is not fair to all concerned and could be detrimental to the future of Makana. It is up to the citizens of Makana to work together on this issue.
Les Reynolds, caucus leader, DA, Makana