The government is considering moving public statues that can be considered in favor of apartheid and colonialism to “theme parks” where people can view them to learn more about the past.
This is what Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, said on Thursday during a debate in parliament on the transformation of the heritage landscape of South Africa.
He maintains that place names, street names and public spaces that still enjoy “apartheid status” must be transformed to be more representative.
“However, we are not going to throw statues in the rubbish bin of history. We are going to keep them in theme parks so that people can go and look at them so as not to forget, ”says Mthethwa.
According to him, a ministerial committee looking into the issue has recommended that an audit be done on all offensive pro-apartheid and colonial statues. They also recommended Mthethwa should put in place the legal framework on the removal of the statues.
According to him, however, communities at the municipal level must themselves discuss issues such as place names and the removal of statues.
Heloise Denner, FF Plus MP, described Mthethwa’s remarks in the debate as a renewed attack on Afrikaans statues and heritage sites. She says instead of removing statues, new ones should be erected instead.
“History, good and bad, is important for us to know what happened in the past so that we can build a better future. History cannot be erased or moved to obscure corners because it does not fit in with the prevailing ideology, ”she says.
Sindile Madlingozi, EFF MP, said that Western cultures were forced on black people by the “barrel of a gun” and that black people’s heritage in public should therefore take more shape.
He also objected to statues celebrating Dutch settlers who he believed were “called by God to oppress and kill black people”.
Annelize van Wyk, DA MP, accused the ANC of no longer pursuing the ideal of a rainbow nation because the government apparently does not want to embrace the diverse cultures in South Africa.