ANC veteran and convener of the Save South Africa campaign Sipho Pityana has called for the Union Buildings to be renamed after the country’s first democratic president‚ Nelson Mandela.
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On Tuesday, speaking in his capacity as the chairperson of the University of Cape Town council, he told guests who had gathered for a graduation ceremony that it was ironic that government had renamed only part of the colonial-era building after the global icon.
“Yet the name of the Union Building itself remains as it is in memory of the four provinces in 1910 that excluded blacks. It is upon you as the new generation of intellectuals to share these lessons with society‚ point out the irony and insist that the Union Buildings should be named Nelson Mandela House,” he said.
South Africans should not continue to live with symbols of an oppressive past overshadowing the diverse and inclusive future that they seek to build as a new society, he said.
He added: “We need to do the same about the many other oppressive symbols in our society.”
“Of course the Freedom Charter‚ which is the reference point‚ is clear … it proclaims ‘the doors of learning shall be open to all’ and so they should. And yet‚ societal inequality made that dream a mirage.”
He also said the country needed a tough conversation on how it funded education in general.
The Save SA campaign said it was united in solidarity over their “deep concern” over President Jacob Zuma’s leadership and the state of the nation. The campaign has called on Zuma to step down as the country’s leader.
Its steering committee includes former cabinet ministers Trevor Manuel and Barbara Hogan.