Oliver Tambo International Airport

It seems the Ekurhuleni Metro Council decided yesterday to finally submit a name change for Johannesburg International Airport. MzansiAfrika and Fodder have both blogged on this today already, and both think it’s an excellent idea. Well, I don’t.

The whole point of renaming it from Jan Smuts Int’l to Johannesburg Int’l was to depoliticise the name and make it neutral and acceptable to all. This was done with all the state-run airports, and I think that was an excellent idea. It made things simpler, easier to understand (for tourists especially) and it pissed nobody off. For newly post-apartheid South Africa, that ranks as an achievement.

So now the ANC-run council wishes to rename it again, regardless of the undoubtedly large cost. I have to ask, what for? As the DA said, the current name is neither hurtful nor offensive, what need is there to spend all that money on changing it?

In short, there isn’t one, it’s a purely whimsical decision that will benefit nobody. An expensive waste to please some municipality fatcats who don’t know what to do with other people’s money.

There are far better and more meaningful ways to honour Oliver Tambo. Such as a new public hospital, or a new low-cost university. These are just two options that came to mind, but either one of them would do a better job of honouring Tambo’s name because it would actually do something really worthwhile and help the poor and disadvantaged of this country, giving them hope. Would renaming an airport do that?