Empty seats around a boardroom table
  • The South African Geographical Names Council is in need of new members.
  • The group of up to 25 people plays a big role in deciding new place names, such as the recent change from Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha.
  • It now needs people with "special competencies" in law, heritage, and more esoteric fields such as onomastics.
  • Nominations close on 30 September.
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You can now nominate people for the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC), the body that signs off on new place names, and so played a big role in recent changes such as Port Elizabeth becoming Gqeberha, and Winnie Mandela having a town named after her.

The department of sport, arts and culture has called for nominations to the body, which acts as an advisor to its minister when it comes to geographical names. It is responsible for checking the spelling of proposed names, but also comments more broadly – if technically – on name-change proposals from provinces before those are accepted, or not, by the minister.

The council may have up to 25 members. Of those seats, nine are reserved for representatives from each province, and one each goes to the Post Office, the Pan South African Language Board, and South Africa's mapmaking directorate.

It now needs people "knowledgeable or having special competencies" in such areas as law, geography and mapping, culture and heritage, and linguistics and onomastics (the study of the history and origin of proper names), the culture department says.

Members are appointed for three-year terms, during which they are reimbursed for expenses and receive honorariums, but no salaries. 

Nominations are only sought from South African citizens. Every nomination must include a signed statement from the nominee accepting the nomination, plus a CV and pitch for the nominee.

Nominations close on 30 September.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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