'Minister Mthethwa should be ashamed' — Here's why the DA is opposing Eastern Cape name changes

Port Elizabeth has been renamed Gqeberha.
Port Elizabeth has been renamed Gqeberha.

The DA has strongly opposed the name changes of Eastern Cape's cities, towns and airports, saying it will submit written parliamentary questions to the department of sport, arts and culture regarding the changes.

Earlier this week, minister Nathi Mthethwa announced a number of name changes in the province, including the city of Port Elizabeth, which is now known as Gqeberha.

Uitenhage has been changed to Kariega, King William’s Town was changed to Qonce and the East London Airport will be called King Phalo Airport.

The changes have been published in the government gazette. They also include a number of spelling corrections for existing geographical names, as well as official registrations of new names.

DA MP Veronica van Dyk said the party was seeking to interrogate whether the public, especially those residents living in the towns and cities, were given an adequate and reasonable time to make their voices heard on the name changes.

“Given the public outcry after minister 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,” she said.

Van Dyk said the name changes were nothing more than a political ploy by the ANC government to garner votes in an election year.

“This is the same department that is unable to maintain historic sites as it is mandated to do and wilfully lets them fall into disrepair. It is the same minister who continues to put his ANC agenda above the lives and livelihoods his ministry should protect,” said Van Dyk.

She said the DA stood behind Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga’s comments that the name changes for Port Elizabeth were a big mistake and that it would have far-reaching consequences.

“How much more money will the department be allowed to waste on vanity pet projects while South African artists and athletes are suffering?” asked Van Dyk.  

“And that during a pandemic that has left the economy in tatters and millions more without work and even the hope of finding employment. Minister Mthethwa should be ashamed. He is a failing minister in charge of a rotten department.” 


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