Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga in bid to reverse Gqeberha name change

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Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Nqaba Bhanga believes that the name Gqeberha has no meaning.
Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Nqaba Bhanga believes that the name Gqeberha has no meaning.
Luvuyo Mehlwana
  • Nqaba Bhanga has written to Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to request a reversal with regard to Port Elizabeth changing to Gqeberha.
  • The Nelson Mandela Bay mayor believes the new name doesn't have meaning.
  • More than 48 000 people have signed an online petition for Cyril Ramaphosa to reverse the gazetted new name of the coastal Eastern Cape city.

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga has written to Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to request that he reverse the new name of Gqeberha back to Port Elizabeth - because the new name doesn't have meaning.

This was confirmed by Bhanga's spokesperson, Morne Steyn, on Monday.

Steyn said: "I can confirm the mayor is opposed to the renaming of Port Elizabeth. There is no formal process or authority by the city to change it back by ourselves, but the mayor has written to the minister to express his unhappiness - not only with the process, but the result thereof.

"The mayor believes the new name is not inclusive and, in fact, has no isiXhosa meaning. As such, it should be reconsidered."

More than 48 000 people have signed an online petition, calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reverse the gazetting of Gqeberha as the city's new name.

READ | Eastern Cape name changes: 'The ANC has gone too far', says DA

Last week, in a government gazette, Mthethwa signed off on name changes for seven Eastern Cape towns and two airports.

The list of name changes are as follows:

• Port Elizabeth Airport – King Dawid Stuurman

• Port Elizabeth City – Gqeberha

• East London Airport – King Phalo Airport

• King William's Town – Qonce

 • Uitenhage – Kariega

• Maclear – Nqanqarhu

• Katkop – Ngqayi

• Mfabantu – Khohlombeni

• Berlin – Ntabozuko

Mthethwa further noted changes to 10 existing place names and spelling corrections of four places.

Last week, the EFF welcomed the changes, describing the move as part of decolonisation and the bigger struggle to transform South Africa into a demographically representative and democratic country.

But the DA hit out at the move, promising to demand transparency from Mthethwa and to ascertain whether opposing submissions were taken into consideration before he gazetted the names.

The party called the move a vanity pet project.

Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Bay region of the ANC has also expressed concern over the name change process.

The ANC, having identified a number of gaps in how these processes are conducted, will find a constructive approach of engaging with authorities on the renaming affecting the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality area. It is our view that renaming should, at all times, be sensitive to the objectives of unity and social cohesion.

"Striving for the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society demands thorough understanding among all national groups, without putting the interests of the democratic majority at bay, towards correcting history together, whilst also showcasing our metro," said ANC regional task team coordinator Luyolo Nqakula in a statement.

Nqakula said the party was quite amazed by the "interesting" outcome of the renaming process, which affected the metropolitan area.

"This is a good indication that some people, within civil communities at least, participate in government processes and their contributions are acknowledged, in spite of the limitations and non-exploration of all communication platforms and methods when engaging and informing citizens of the renaming of certain names in the city," said Nqakula.

He added: "The ANC has noted concerns and complaints regarding how the processes unfolded, and we are of the view that more avenues of engaging communities in the renaming process must happen.

"All necessary steps should be taken to localise the approach and strategy, among others, to align the process with public participation policies or strategies of the respective local sphere of government, in order to ensure comprehensive consultation and synergise a constructive approach.

"The fact that a range of constituencies from different sectors and interest groups might not have been comprehensively brought on board or sensitised, unintentionally increases tension and disillusionment about the renaming process and its desired outcome."

Arts and Culture spokesperson Zimasa Velaphi acknowledged News24's questions, following Bhanga's claim, and promised to respond. Her response will be added once received.

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