Minister Nathi Mthethwa has confirmed that approved geographical name changes in the Eastern Cape will stay.
These name changes included the change of names of Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, Uitenhage to Kariega, King Williamstown to Qonce, East London Airport to King Phalo Airport and Port Elizabeth Airport to Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport.
Despite thousands of objections to the name changes, Mthetwa said that one of the main purposes is to transform South Africa’s naming landscape and ensure that the names of places in South Africa reflect the languages, culture and heritage of the majority of the people of this country, instead of reflecting the country’s colonial and apartheid past.
The objections varied from claims that insufficient consultation was done at the local level, alternative names had been ignored, the renaming would drive away tourists, or that the money spent on renaming could be better spent on service delivery and claims that the new names have nothing to do with the people of Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality or are a duplication of existing place names.
“The ministry and the department received a number of objections including three boxes with petition signatures of 12,402 residents of the Nelson Mandela Bay that were sent through to the office of the executive mayor, as well as 690 emails with objections to the name changes,” the minister’s spokesperson Masechaba Khumalo said.
Nelson Mandela Bay executive mayor, Nqaba Bhanga, said that he is concerned that the more than 65 000 objections to the name changes have been disregarded.”
He said the Minister has missed an opportunity to correct this grave violation of participatory democracy, saying during the initial name change process, only 393 persons participated, whereas more than 65 000 residents have objected to these name changes.
Bhanga said while “we are not opposed to name changes, it should be a unifying process.”
“We are considering all options available to us, including the outcomes of the soon-to-be-released judgment in the Makana name change matter. We will make an announcement in this regard soon.”
Photo: Stan Blumberg