Nelson Mandela Mayor Nqaba Bhanga has objected to the decision by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to disregard citizens’ objections to the renaming of Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha.
With over 65,000 objections, Bhanga said the number should never be ignored. Emphasising that they were not totally opposed to the name change.
This is coming after Mthethwa opted to overrule objections made by South Africans.
The objections were made over the changing of names for certain cities, towns, and airports in the Eastern Cape.
In February, Mthethwa announced that Port Elizabeth would be renamed Gqeberha, King Williamstown to Qonce, Uitenhage to Kariega, Port Elizabeth Airport to Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport, and East London Airport to King Phalo Airport.
The pronouncement stirred outrage amongst many, but at the time, the government said the move was not final until after consultations were concluded.
People who opposed the name change said there was no adequate public consultation on the name changes and that alternative options were ignored.
Some object to the names on the basis that some of the new names have nothing to do with the people of Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality or are a duplication of existing place names.
Another concern is the funds expected to be expended on the renaming convention, many suggest that it could be better spent on service delivery.
DA’s Deputy Shadow Minister for Sports, Arts, and Culture Veronica van Dyk produced a scathing response to the name change, stating that the public ‘has not been given enough time’ to express their opposition.
“The DA stands behind Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Nqaba Bhanga’s comments that the name changes for Port Elizabeth were a big mistake and that it would have far-reaching consequences. Minister Nathi Mthethwa should be ashamed. He is a failing Minister in charge of a rotten Department,” she added.
After consulting with the South African Geographical Names Council, Mthethwa has decided that all objections are rejected.