Third Wave Nathi Mthetwa theatre

Minister Nathi Mthethwa / GCIS

Eastern Cape name changes: Nathi Mthetwa REJECTS all objections

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthetwa said the objections to the changes, including Gqeberha, Qonce and Kariega, didn’t warrant being considered

Third Wave Nathi Mthetwa theatre

Minister Nathi Mthethwa / GCIS

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Sports and Recreation, Nathi Mthetwa has opted to overrule objections made by South Africans, over the changing of names for certain cities, towns and airports in the Eastern Cape.

In February, Mthetwa announced that Port Elizabeth would be renamed 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 decision sparked outrage amongst many, but at the time, government said the move was not set in stone and there still needed to be more engagement.

According to the ministry’s spokesperson, Masechaba Khumalo, Mthetwa roped in the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC), and asked that it go through all objections, before advising him on the way forward.

“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,” Khumalo said.

“After receiving the advice of the 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”

Masechaba Khumalo, Arts and Culture spokesperson

Why people objected to Eastern Cape name changes

The Arts and Culture Department claims it received a petition of more than 12 000 signatures from Nelson Mandela Bay. While the ministry also received 690 emails with objections to the name changes that had been gazetted.

According to Ndlovu, there were a number of reasons people objected to the Eastern Cape name changes, namely:

  • There wasn’t enough public consultation on the name changes
  • Alternative options were ignored
  • The new names names have nothing to do with the people of Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality or are a duplication of existing place names
  • Some expressed concerns that the renaming would drive away tourists
  • Others said the money spent on renaming could be better spent on service delivery