Port Elizabeth name change petition
Port Elizabeth petition launched. Photo: Pixabay

The DA has today launched a national online petition to object against the gazetted name changes of Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, and Uitenhage to Kariega.

“There is a distinct lack of transparency on how the ANC government and the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, arrived at approving these names,” said MP Andrew Whitfield – DA Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson – in a statement. “We believe the public participation process was steamrollered through by the ANC and that most people were kept in the dark regarding the proposed names.”

“most people were kept in the dark regarding the proposed names”

The DA said it stands with Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor, DA Cllr Nqaba Bhanga, in stating that it’s not against name changes, but that the processes followed must be inclusive and reflect South Africa’s constitutional commitment to reconciliation.

Name changes are meaningless in isiXhosa

“The names Gqeberha and Kariega have very little historical meaning, will cost the government millions of rands to implement, have a far-reaching effect on the economy, and do not promote unity or transformation,” said Whitfield.

Mayor Bhanga has also stated that he believes the new name of Gqeberha is not inclusive and has no isiXhosa meaning.

“The people of the Eastern Cape are living in poverty and have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The province has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Spending millions of rands on name changes is a slap in the face of our people,” said Whitfield.

Complaints can be lodged within 30 days of name changes

The DA says that despite Minister Mthethwa and the ANC government creating the impression that the name changes, as published in the Government Gazette on 23 February 2021, are set in stone… the law, is actually clear that complaints can be lodged in writing to the Minister within in 30 days of the name changes being gazetted.

The DA says it will deliver the petition to the offices of Minister Mthethwa and President Cyril Ramaphosa before the 30-day grace period runs out.

“We call on the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay to support the DA’s effort to ensure a transparent and inclusive name change process that will unite everyone who calls the Metro home,” said Whitfield.