South Africa

Mthethwa turns a blind eye to name-change objections

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality said it is concerned that minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa rejected all objections to the gazetted name changes in the Eastern Cape.

Spokesperson  for the executive mayor of the Nelson Mandela metro Leander Kruger said they were concerned that the 65,000 objections to the name changes were disregarded by Mthethwa.  “The minister has missed an opportunity to correct this grave violation of participatory democracy. During the initial name change process, only 393 persons participated in the meetings, whereas more than 65,000 residents objected to these name changes. This is disrespectful to the 1.3-million residents of the Metro.”

Kruger said name changing should unify the residents of the municipality.  “Let me firstly make it clear, we are not opposed to name changes. However, name changes should unify us, be easily remembered and recognisable, have a significant historical link, promote the economy and be correctly used in the context of the language it is written in. These changes do none of this,” said Kruger.

In a statement  on Sunday the department said it rejected all objections to the gazetted 23 name changes in the Eastern Cape. Mthethwa made an announcement in February this year that Port Elizabeth will change 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 ministry and the department received a number of objections which included three boxes of petitions with the signatures of 12,402 residents of the Nelson Mandela Bay. The ministry also received 690 emails with objections to the name changes. The metro even wrote a letter to Mthethwa requesting the reversal of the new name because it doesn't have a meaning.

 Kruger said the metro is weighing its options on how they will challenge the minister’s decision.

 “We are considering all options available to us, including the outcomes of the soon to be released judgment in the Makhanda name change matter. We will make an announcement in this regard soon,” said Kruger.

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