The Eastern Cape government has announced the name change of Mbizana Local Municipality to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Local Municipality.
The change, which has faced some controversy, was officially gazetted on Thursday (4 March) but is backdated to December 2020.
The municipality encompasses a number of popular tourist destinations on South Africa’s ‘wild coast’, including the Wild Coast Sun Resort and the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve.
In February, Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthetwa announced a number of name changes for towns, cities and airports in the Eastern Cape.
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.
All of the changes are being made in the Eastern Cape province. The most notable change is for Port Elizabeth, which is now known as Gqeberha.
The Port Elizabeth International Airport has also had its name changed to the Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport.
In a statement, 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.