The controversy over the Tshwane/Pretoria name is refusing to die down and is now headed to the High Court again. Next month Tshwane Metro Council will head to the Pretoria High Court in a bid to get the go-ahead to erect signage boards to the main entrances to the city for the World Cup, bearing the name “City of Tshwane” next to the word “Fifa”.

The council said in papers filed at court and served on the Freedom Front Plus and Afriforum, that Fifa had concluded the 2010 Host City Agreement with the “City of Tshwane” and not with Pretoria. The signage thus has to say “Fifa” and “City of Tshwane”.

The problem arose when Afriforum and the FF+ objected to this and referred the council to a 2007 interim court order, during which Judge Bill Prinsloo provisionally interdicted the council from substituting the name “Pretoria” on signage boards with that of “Tshwane”.

This was pending the outcome of a main application in this regard, which is still to be heard.

However, the council said the terms of the interim order were being misconstrued.

Mpho Makobo, the council’s executive director of legal services, said in papers filed in this application that the terms of that court order were “very clear”.

“They refer only to that signage bearing the name ‘Pretoria’ and which the City of Tshwane may want to change by substituting them with the signage bearing the name ‘Tshwane’. This, in our view, has absolutely nothing to do with the signage promoting the World Cup as envisaged in the Host City Agreement,” said Makobo.

He added that the letter the council had received from the respondents’ attorneys, stating that the council was prohibited from erecting any signs indicating the name “Tshwane” pending the adjudication of the main application, was thus wrong.

The council will on October 6 ask the court to declare that they can use the name “Tshwane” with regards to the World Cup. In the event of the court interpreting the interim order as prohibiting them from doing this, the council will ask for a reconsideration of the interim order. This, it is said, is for the council to meet its obligations arising out of the Host City Agreement.

Makobo said the signage relating to the hosting of the World Cup is in the form of adverts and directions for the benefit of spectators visiting the city and due to be erected at key gateway points.

If the council failed to post these signage, it would lead to the non-compliance with the 2010 agreement and the city would consequently lose its status as host city, said Makobo. “The city’s obligations under the agreement are specifically directed at the Fifa soccer competition and will not bring about a long lasting and permanent alteration of the name changes…,” he submitted.

He added that the matter was “semi-urgent”, as the council had to erect the signage by November.

“The signs are designed for a specific event to be held in a specific period and it will not prejudice the respondents’ rights in any way regarding the main application… the possible cancellation of the City of Tshwane as host city will prejudice the business community and football supporters and it will mean a loss of revenue for the city,” said Makobo.

Meanwhile, Afriforum’s CEO Kallie Kriel and the FF+ said they would oppose the application. Kriel accused the council of abusing the World Cup as a “ruse to undermine and establish legal dictum on the status of Pretoria as the name of South Africa’s capital”.

Conrad Beyers, of the FF+, said they too wanted the name boards placed at the entrances to the city, but the name “Pretoria” should be reflected.

PUBLICATION: (Pretoria News) (Page 1)
AUTHOR: Zelda Venter
DATED: 17th September 2009