The Grahamstown name change process has been ongoing for more than three years. The Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown (KGG) campaign has long claimed that process is being manipulated by the Makana Municipality in conjunction with the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee and that the goal-posts are being continually shifted to produce a predetermined outcome, namely that the name must be changed irrespective of public opinion.
To justify its claim the KGG presents the following blow-by-blow synopsis of the process to date:
13 July 2007: Makana Mayor Phumelelo Kate announces that the name 'Grahamstown' is offensive and 'must go'. – The deadline for submissions to the Makana Municipality's Naming Task Team (NTT) is set for 14 November 2007.
22 September 2007: A 'snap poll' is conducted in Grahamstown and 78% of the respondents favour keeping the name Grahamstown.
20 October 2007: The "Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown" (KGG) campaign is launched.
12 November 2007: The NTT's deadline expires, with only one substantial submission, that of the KGG. The deadline for submissions is extended to 26 November 2007
26 November 2007: New deadline expires; the only substantial submission is still that of the KGG supported by nearly 4 500 signatures, emails & smses. No meeting of the NTT is convened and the KGG receives no response to its submission.
29 January 2008: A new public consultation process and 'education' campaign is announced, commencing with an indaba on 1 March 2008 and followed by a month of 'consultation and debate' after which the NTT will make a recommendation to the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee.
The Institute for Social & Economic Research at Rhodes University issues the results of a research survey of Grahamstown township residents indicating that most respondents are not in favour of the name change.
14 April 2008: A scheduled imbizo at the City Hall is abandoned due to a lack of attendance and the Chairperson of the NTT, Councillor Julie Wells, announces that the public consultation process has become 'open-ended'.
22 May 2008: the Makana Municipality issues a media statement calling for further "inputs on the question of changing the name of Grahamstown" to be made by 20 June 2008.
19 September 2008: Councillor Wells announces that the name change issue had been 'taken back' by the Makana Mayor, Mr Kate.
18 June 2009: Phumelelo Kate is replaced by Vumile Lwana as the Makana Mayor.
15 May 2010: Councillor Wells is quoted in the press as saying that the naming issue is 'far from dead' and that an announcement can be expected very soon. "It's a question of adjusting to new key role players and lines of discussion", she says.
22 October 2010: The Chairperson of the ECGNC, Adv Loyiso Mpumlwana, is quoted as saying that he had received a submission for "a community pushing for the name of Grahamstown to be changed". It is confirmed that 'the community' was Mr Lwana's Mayoral Committee of which Councillor Julie Wells is also a member.
3 November 2010: Municipal spokesperson Thandy Matebese issues a statement saying that the outcome of the public consultation process was "overwhelmingly against retaining the name of Grahamstown" and that a soon-to-be-appointed "new Name Change Task Team (NCTT)" is to take over from the 'old NCTT' and will decide the matter as an 'independent authority'.
4 November 2010: The KGG responds, disputing that the outcome of the public participation process was as it was claimed to be.
– Grahamstown to become Nxele?
– Editorial comment