Transformation of South Africa’s Heritage Landscape



Debate on Minister Mthethwa’s speech


05 November 2020

Honorable Speaker

Agbare Premier Makhura

Honorable Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Hon. Nathi Mthethwa

Dear members of the Gauteng Executive Council

Honorable members

Members of the Media

Gauteng citizenship

Honorable Speaker, an excerpt from the preamble to the National Heritage Resources Act (NRHA) 1999, which is the legislation that governs the promotion and protection of our national heritage, says that our heritage: “has the potential to affirm our diverse cultures , and thus it forms our national character. “

The IFP respects and recognizes the central significance of arts, culture and heritage in the cultural, social, economic and intellectual life of the country. The IFP believes that the confirmation with the demolition of statues will not serve us well to define the character of our diverse nation. As the Honorable Prince Buthelezi MP in Parliament put it to the Minister: “if we are to have a record of our saints, I think we should also have a record of our villains”. For those who do not remember their past are doomed to repeat it.

Most importantly, it should be an inclusive process and not biased towards celebrating the ruling party’s battle icons. We need to have a balanced and diverse reflection on our history. By doing so, we have a better chance of shaping the democratic character of our country, where all historical objects that stand as elements of heritage are treated equally, despite our political differences and not in spite of them.

The Minister must take these considerations into account when implementing his proposed plans to move the statues and monuments, illustrating colonialism and apartheid, to the local cultural nation-building parks yet to be built across the country. The latter should not be a strategy that seeks to erase the memory of our country’s past. Instead, it should affirm the diversity of our cultures and be an educational experience for future generations to learn holistically about our past.

Honorable Speaker, the familiarity with monuments of colonial and apartheid statues, as well as city names, is an uncomfortable reminder of our secluded past.

Although some people may see the transformation of heritage landscape as an ideological project, the IFP sees it as a historical project that can build a coherent and balanced heritage that reflects our national history as a democratic South Africa.

If executed well and efficiently, this heritage transformation project can have a positive social and economic impact, which we currently lack as a nation. Our heritage has a more nuanced meaning. We should consider it more than just a popular slogan, or a celebration of a braai day or participation in #Jerusalema challenges.

The project to transform our heritage could be the bridge we use to cross the polemical gaps in our heritage space. The heritage space is much debated over who deserves to be remembered more. In my opinion, such polemics make no progress or substantial difference in the lives of many of our fellow citizens who are still haunted by the shadows of poverty and inequality in apartheid.

With that said, criticism of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture’s (DSAC) post-apartheid heritage conservation project is widely known to suffer from a lack of funding and human resource capacity, and is also undermined by poor integration in various administrative departments. a government.

I sincerely hope that the issues raised in this debate will not just be another talk about plans that will not be implemented. It should be part of the steps towards a progressive realization of the transformation of heritage. In particular, the creation of the cultural nation-building parks, which must be reviewed and made available accordingly. Thank you.



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