This week the Eastern Cape received a host of new town names as well as new names for its two airports. Arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa gazetted the controversial changes this week and while some might welcome the new names, most residents (as well as a handful of traditional leaders) are not happy at all.
The DA, in particular, has said that ANC has gone too far and it has since submitted parliamentary questions to the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture regarding the cost behind the project as well the public participation process.
Speaking to News24, DA Spokesperson Veronica van Dyk said it’s essential to investigate whether or not Eastern Cape residents were given sufficient time to participate and submit their opinion, noting that some objections have already been ignored. “This decision to sideline submissions from the public by rejecting 139 objections and two petitions with 180 signatures, might have been a step too far for the ANC government. ” van Dyk said. In 2019, TimesLive reported that a petition called “Keep the Name Port Elizabeth” got over 19 000 signatures at the time.
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Another concern is whether the funds necessary to make these changes can be justified in such an unstable economic climate. In 2019 the DA opposed the name change for PE airport, stating that it would cost millions and that it would be “a slap in the face” for those living in poverty.
In response to legitimate concerns from the DA regarding costs involved and ways in which the money could be better spent, the ANC replied via a statement saying that “this transformation agenda seeks to address the imbalances from the past, therefore no quantifiable price tag could be put on it.”
New Name Changes in the Eastern Cape Include:
- Port Elizabeth airport is now Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport
- East London airport is now the King Phalo Airport
- Port Elizabeth itself is now Gqeberha
- Uitenhage is now Kariega
- King William’s Town is now Qonce
- Maclear is now Nqanqarhu
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