Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga has come out in opposition to the government’s decision to change the names of Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, labelling the choices “ill-advised”.
In a series of tweets, he said he has written to sports, arts, and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa expressing his concern “not only with the process that was followed to change these names but also the outcome thereof”.
Citizens have 30 days to register objections to the February 25 announcement that Port Elizabeth would be changed to Gqeberha and Uitenhage to Kariega. Port Elizabeth International Airport will also be renamed Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport.
Bhanga said he was of the opinion that the new names were not inclusive and had no isiXhosa meaning.
“While not disputing the need for geographical names that portray an inclusive country, I believe that these names have no relation to and/or connection to the people of our metro,” said Bhanga.
He said there was also a lingering question mark regarding the public participation process.
Bhanga, a DA member, said he was pleased that other political parties in the metro “agreed” with him on the matter. This after the ACDP and the ANC also questioned aspects of the name change, the Herald reported.
“I will explore further actions to be taken to stop these ill-advised changes,” said Bhanga.
The Herald reported on Tuesday that a petition to retain the name of Port Elizabeth had gathered 48,290 signatures by Monday.
by Aron Hyman