Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Nqaba Bhanga has written to Arts & Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to request that he reverse the new name of Gqeberha back to Port Elizabeth – because the new name does not have meaning, says a News24 report.
Bhanga's spokesperson, Morne 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 already signed an online petition, calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa to reverse the gazetting of Gqeberha as the city's new name.
The name change to Gqeberha is not permanent – yet. The Herald reports despite Mthethwa’s announcement on Eastern Cape name changes, residents and other interested parties still have about three weeks to register objections. The renaming of Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, Uitenhage to Kariega and the Port Elizabeth International Airport to the Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport has set tongues wagging around the country. Major political parties in Nelson Mandela Bay have expressed concern about the processes that were followed.
This week, Eastern Cape Sports, Recreation, Arts & Culture MEC Fezeka Nkomonye acknowledged the public still had 30 days from Mthethwa’s announcement and gazetting of the new names to lodge objections with the Minister. Nkomonye said the Minister had received name-change recommendations from the SA Geographical Names Council which, in turn, received and scrutinised submissions from the Provincial Geographical Naming Committees.
"If an objection is lodged now, then the Minister will once again check if procedure was followed correctly."
She said the correct procedure would have included advertisements in the media and on posters inviting public participation. Furthermore, the Provincial Geographical Naming Committee would also have had to have meetings with local businesses and other stakeholders to discuss the proposed changes.