The African Transformation Movement (ATM) is calling for the removal all symbols of apartheid and colonialism in parliament, including street names, and for the Union Buildings in Pretoria to be renamed.
The call was rejected outright by Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, who said it was an indicative of the ATM’s disrespect for the constitution.
“We must stop being hypocrites and saying we believe in the constitution that says South Africa belongs to all who live in it, but continue to make statements contrary to that.
“We must have mutual respect for each other and for everyone’s cultures and symbols.
“History is history, we cannot erase it. If we say we have one SA, we must have respect for history, including Afrikaner history, and their statues and symbols,” said Groenewald.
The ATM, which is one of two smaller party that came to parliament after the 2019 election, has two seats in the House occupied by its president, Vuyo Zungula, and Mandisa Marawu, a former Eastern Cape ANC executive member and former MEC.
Zungula has written to both National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa asking them to consider instituting action for the removal of apartheid symbols.
Zungula said the symbols of colonialism and apartheid could be housed in a museum, but should not be left in the parliamentary precinct.
The symbols he referred to included those of Anglo-Boer War hero and Union of South Africa’s first prime minister, Louis Botha, and Queen Victoria of England.
A number of statues were defaced in parliament and elsewhere in the city and around the country during a campaign led by the Economic Freedom Fighters a few years ago.
In the letter to Mthethwa, Zungula said the process to complete liberation should be accompanied by the renaming of the Union Buildings.
“The building name on its own seeks to celebrate a colonial background that softly mentions that Africans cannot be represented in a House that houses the highest office in the land – the president .
“It is against this background that the ATM is calling for the renaming of the Union Buildings to reflect African history and heritage,” he said.
Zungula told Modise in the letter that it made no sense for the parliament that she presided over to be reminder of a colonial past that threatened the safeguarding of the freedom that was hard fought for.
“In the same light, we are also calling for the removal of all apartheid and colonialism symbols from this House, the renaming of all buildings, streets, monuments and other sites that still carry a colonial identity.
“It is such neglected issues that give rise to societal imbalances within our country and perpetuate material discrimination,” he said.
He said the symbols included the photographs of Britain’s Queen Victoria hanging in the main parliamentary gallery, the statue of Botha and othes structures currently in the precinct, as well as plaques engraved with the history of oppressors.
“We surely have enough history to be put up on these walls.
“Liberation activists’ statues and engraved plates that tell the history of our people.
“The stories of unsung heroes remain untold. The stories of ordinary South Africans contributing to positive change in society remain untold.
“Let us make parliament the voice of the people,” Zungula implored.
But Groenewald argued that in fact the Afrikaners had fought against colonialism and suffered immensely under it.
“We therefore reject this request,” he added. “It is actual proof that the ATM has no respect for the constitution of South Africa or for other cultural communities, particularly Afrikaners.”