The Democratic Alliance (DA) has, on Friday 5 March, launched its national online petition to object against the gazetted name changes of Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, and Uitenhage to Kariega.
DA Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson Andrew Whitfield said 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 the names.
“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,” he said.
Whitfield said the DA stands with Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor, DA Cllr Nqaba Bhanga, in stating that they are not against name changes, however, the processes followed must be inclusive and reflect our constitutional commitment to reconciliation.
“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. Mayor Bhanga has also stated that he believes the new name of Gqeberha is not inclusive and, in fact, has no isiXhosa meaning,” said Whitfield.
“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,” he added.
Whitfield said Mthethwa and the ANC government would have the people of Nelson Mandela Bay believe that the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage name changes, as published in the Government Gazette on 23 February 2021, are set in stone.
“The law, however, is clear that complaints can be lodged in writing to the Minister within 30 days of the name changes being gazetted. The DA will not give up the fight and will ensure that this petition is delivered to the offices of not only Minister Mthethwa, but also President Cyril Ramaphosa before the 30-day grace period runs out,” said Whitfield.
The South African reached out to Mthethwa’s spokesperson for further comment, however, there was no response at the time of publication.
“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,” he added.
One may click here to access the DA’s petition.