Statues and monuments that are ‘not in line with the spirit and values of the South African Constitution’ could be relocated to ‘cultural nation-building parks’.
According to an IOL report, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has mandated the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) to conduct an audit of all monuments and statues throughout the country.
This emerged in Mthethwa’s response to parliamentary questions from Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Veronica van Dyk.
Mthethwa said: ‘Once the national audit has been conducted and completed, my department will commence with the process of identifying statues, symbols and monuments that are not in line with the spirit and values of the South African constitution for relocating, repositioning and curating into regional cultural nation-building parks.’
The process would be ‘guided by SAHRA’S removal and relocation guidelines as per South Africa Heritage Resources Act no 25 of 1999’.
There would be a public consultation process.
According to IOL, the initiative comes after a 13-member task team – comprising academics, heritage practitioners and interest groups – was mandated in 2015 to conduct public hearings in all nine provinces on the transformation of South Africa’s heritage landscape.
The report quoted Van Dyk as saying that while the DA was ‘not opposed to statues being assessed on a case by case basis, the audit must be participatory and allow communities to have a say’.
She added: ‘It certainly does not contribute to nation-building if monuments for the “post-colonial and constitutional era” were to be limited to ANC heritage, instead of diverse figures and events where everyone worked together to bring about a new constitutional dispensation.’
Van Dyk said that ‘as a culturally mature society we must recognise that South Africa’s past is complex and that we must be sensitive to the different contexts from which the South African story originated and must give space to cultural groups to share and celebrate their heritage without fear of condemnation and labelling’.
[Picture: NJR ZA, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15304546]