South African Cultural Observatory

Minister Nathi Mthethwa Approves The Eastern Cape Name Changes

BY 30.06.21

The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Mr Nathi Mthethwa has decided to uphold the 23 name changes in the Eastern Cape as gazetted by the Department on 23 February 2021.

In a recent media release, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture stated that, “after receiving the advice of the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) and after applying his mind to the merits of all the objections, the Minister has decided that all the objections do not merit the review of the decisions on geographical names gazetted on the 23rd of February 2021. Thus, all the objections are rejected”.

The 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

The Department said the Ministry and the Department received a number of objections that included 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 and 690 emails with objections to the name changes that had been gazetted.

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 Department indicated the Minister arrived at the decision after he requested the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) to go through all the objections and advise the Minister accordingly. The SAGNC submitted evidence to the Minister that consultation was done throughout the province of the Eastern Cape by the Provincial Geographical Names Committee before recommendations of geographical names were submitted to the SAGNC. The SAGNC further advised the Minister that all provisions of the SAGNC Act 118 of 1998 were followed at all processes during the consideration of the names gazetted on the 23rd of February 2021.

In its media statement the Department said “the Minister would like to reiterate that one of the main purposes of the SAGNC Act 118 of 1998 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”.

In accordance with the statement, the renaming of geographical features is also done in line with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which recommended the renaming of geographical features after those who contributed towards the attainment of freedom and democracy as part of symbolic reparations.

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