The South African government plans rename Cape Town International Airport by the end of 2018.

Names that are in the running include Robert Sobukwe, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Albertina Sisulu – but the frontrunner so far is Nelson Mandela International Airport.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande confirmed his intentions to rename the airport at his conference reporting back on Easter road safety on Tuesday.

“There are a number of names that have been put forward around the renaming of Cape Town International Airport – some officially, others in the media or in public,” Nzimande said in a press statement. “I must just admit that we have started with consultations and the name that’s high up there is the name of Nelson Mandela but we will have to consider other proposals as well.”

The Minister said he is working together with the Department of Arts and Culture to observe the processes for renaming the airport, which will hopefully be complete by the end of 2018.

“What is not in doubt is that indeed Cape Town International Airport will have a new name,” Nzimande said. “We hope it gets done this year.”

The name chosen will honour one of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icons.

Nzimande said: “Our ultimate preoccupation is to ensure that we name this airport after one of our heroes or heroines who contributed immensely to the attainment of a democratic South Africa, one that is united, non-racial, non- sexist, democratic and prosperous.

He confirmed that there will be a public participation process, but details have not been released on how the public can submit their thoughts or proposals.

EFF leader Julius Malema challenged the government to name the airport after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the struggle icon’s memorial at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.  The idea gained significant support, with somebody even editing the airport’s Wikipedia page to reflect this name.

This support continued after Nzimande revealed that Nelson Mandela was the frontrunner for the renaming, given that he has already received extensive recognition worldwide and within SA for his work.

Others have called for lesser-known activists – and particularly local Capetonians – to be memorialized and honoured in the renaming.

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