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S.Africa’s capital considers naming street after Mao

Published on 28/08/2014

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong was added to the list of possible names for streets and buildings in the South African capital Pretoria on Thursday despite protest from opposition parties.

The ruling African National Congress pushed through the name of the founder of the People’s Republic of China, whose government was an ally against apartheid, at a meeting of the city’s council.

“Mao Zedong was a revolutionary in his own right. This is one of the criteria the city used to select the name,” city spokeswoman Lebogang Matji was quoting as saying by Sapa news agency.

Mao, who led China for 27 years until his death in 1976, commands reverence among many Chinese and the ANC, but also fierce opposition from critics who point out that his disastrous political and economic campaigns led to tens of millions of deaths.

South Africa’s main opposition, the Democratic Alliance, said the proposal was approved despite “heated debate”.

“The DA does not support the inclusion of this name as he was known as a mass murderer, a womaniser, liar and drug baron,” said DA councillor Elmarie Linde.

“He stood for everything that the South African Constitution does not support.”

But city spokeswoman Matji said Pretoria had kept the names of prominent white leaders, who the current government view as dictators, when all-race democracy started 20 years ago.