Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha – more name changes will come: minister

Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthetwa has announced a number of name changes in the Eastern Cape, including the city of Port Elizabeth which will now be known as Gqeberha.

In a statement on Thursday (25 February), the minister said that the transformation of the naming landscape in South Africa is ‘a critical component of the heritage landscape as a whole’.

“There was a need for the name changes as this is part of a government programme to transform South Africa’s heritage landscape. The names of places we live in reflect the identity and cultural heritage of the people of South Africa,” he said.

The South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) provides for the transformation of South Africa’s naming landscape, with the minister noting that the name changes originated from the province where they took place.

“All the gazetted names come from the Eastern Cape, and were submitted to the South African Geographical Names Committee from the Eastern Cape.

“As such, more name changes will be submitted to the SAGNC and the minister in the future, provided that public consultations are conducted by the Provincial Geographical Names Committee before such name changes are submitted to the minister for his consideration,” he said.

Mthetwa said that prior to the changes, the Provincial Geographical Names Committee conducted public consultations on all the names that were changed.

“The South African Geographical Names Act provides for objections within 30 days from members of the public in instances that they are not happy with the gazette name changes,” he said.

The changes were published in a government gazette on Tuesday (23 February). The gazette also includes a number of spelling corrections for existing geographical names as well as official registrations of new names.

Old name New name Area Feature
Port Elizabeth International Airport Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport Nelson Mandela Bay International airport
Port Elizabeth Gqeberha Nelson Mandela Bay City
Uitenhage Kariega Nelson Mandela Bay City
East London Airport King Phalo Airport Buffalo City Airport
Berlin Ntabozuko Buffalo City Town
MaClear Town Nqanqarhu Buffalo City Town
King William’s Town Qonce Buffalo City Town

The change has been criticised by the opposition Democratic Alliance which says that it will query the costs involved for the name change.

“It is important to interrogate whether the public, especially those residents living in these towns and cities, was given adequate and reasonable time to make their voices heard on the issue. Was the process advertised in due time and were every voice considered?

“Given the public outcry after the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, gazetted the changes, it would seem as though government was simply engaging in a box-ticking exercise under the guise of “transformation” and ultimately ignored the voices opposed to the name changes,” the DA said.

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Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha – more name changes will come: minister