Call to rename Mthatha Airport

Mabuyane urges name change to boost tourism and employment in EC

Economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC Oscar Mabuyane wants Mthatha Airport to be named after Nelson Mandela.
He made the announcement in Mbizana during Heritage Day celebrations on Monday.
“We must ask ourselves as leadership why is it that the Mthatha Airport is not good enough to be named after our legends if indeed we are the Home of Legends.”
Mabuyane was addressing hundreds of AmaXesibe at Kondlo village in Dalasile Great Place in Mbizana.
The Pondoland revolt took place in Mbizana in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Mabuyane said people of the Eastern Cape continue to see the heritage of legends, such as Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela (also from Mbizana), Oliver Tambo and Albertina Sisulu, used to benefit already developed areas of SA.
This, he said, happened while the province was battling to deal with increasing levels of unemployment.
“We are decisively and rapidly accelerating the implementation of key economic reforms that will unlock greater investment in important growth sectors,” said Mabuyane, citing tourism as a key area.
He said the reforms include a review of visa requirements so that business travel is made a lot easier.
“This is why we must continue to build and position the Mthatha Airport as a regional airport that will complete the political heritage triangle of Isithwalandwe uRolihlahla Mandela, in the year of the centenary of our iconic former president’s birth.
“We must connect the birthplace of Mvezo; the struggle at Vilakazi Street, Soweto; his imprisonment in Robben Island and his resting place in Qunu.
“AmaXesibe must join the voices for the appropriate renaming of Mthatha Airport so we can see significant investment in our tourism destinations,” said Mabuyane.
The event was also attended by senior AmaXesibe leaders, such as political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni, as well as co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Fikile Xasa.
Mabuyane also announced his plans to top-slice the budgets of provincial government departments in order to boost the budget for economic development, tourism and agrarian reform.
“This will see at least 1% of the budget of each department being redirected to deal with economic development through tourism initiatives.
“We are in agreement in cabinet that part of the problem why we are taking too long to address unemployment, is that we are not budgeting for economic development but rather for social services,” he said.
Another challenge, Mabuyane said, was that for years the Eastern Cape had been at the periphery of development.
Part of the problem was that the leadership and people of the province “have not spoken loudly with one voice about our development aspirations”.
He mentioned the multibillion-rand Mzimvubu Dam project, as well as the Mthombo oil refinery, which have stalled as national government battles to agree on a funding model for both projects.
Statistics SA’s Q2 report, released last month, shows the Eastern Cape has the highest unemployment rate at 45.8%.
“Our province has immense potential to grow in tourism, agriculture and the oceans economy. We should be producing food – not only for the country, but for the entire continent and world,” he added...

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