IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa has called out the government for erecting statues that only celebrate the ANC’s struggle heroes.
Speaking in Parliament, Hlabisa said the process of erecting statues should be an inclusive one and not one that is biased towards the celebration of the governing party’s struggle icons only.
The task team established to consider the transformation of South Africa’s heritage landscape recently proposed the relocation of some apartheid and colonial monuments to theme parks which will be dotted across the country, Art24 previously reported.
In his Heritage Day speech in September, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government had worked hard to transform the country’s heritage landscape since democracy, having come from a history of prejudice and exclusion.
He said monuments glorifying South Africa’s divisive past should be repositioned and relocated.
The IFP, which has been against the dismantling of old statues, much like former president Thabo Mbeki, said the fixation with dismantling statues would not serve us well in defining the character of our diverse nation.
Hlabisa added that those who did not remember their past were doomed to repeat it.
“Most importantly, this must be an inclusive process and not biased towards the celebration of the ruling party’s struggle icons only. We must have a balanced and diverse reflection on our history.”
By doing so, we stand a better chance at shaping the democratic character of our nation, where all historical artefacts that stand as elements of heritage are treated equally, despite our political differences and not in spite of them.”
Recently, the governing party was criticised for erecting a statue of its longest-serving president, Oliver Tambo.
The point of contention was the use of state money to promote the ANC as the statue featured a pin of the party’s flag on Tambo’s jacket lapel.
The statues of colonial figures, such as Cecil Rhodes, were points of contention during the Fees Must Fall movement. During the same time, in 2015, a statue of Queen Elizabeth was vandalised in Port Elizabeth.
Hlabisa added that the project to transform South Africa’s heritage could be a bridge used to cross over the polemic divide in our heritage space, which is dominated by contests over who deserves to be remembered more.
“The prominence of colonial and apartheid statues monuments, as well city names, is an uncomfortable reminder of our segregated past.
“While some people might view the transformation of heritage landscape as an ideological project, the IFP views it as a historical project that might build a cohesive and balanced heritage that reflects our national history as a democratic South Africa,” he said.