The Democratic Alliance (DA) has condemned a government proposal that could bring about the relocation of colonial statues. Cabinet has already endorsed the proposal, which would see the statues move to dedicated theme parks across the country.

During a parliamentary presentation on September 3, Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced the recommendation that offensive names, symbols and structures in the country be relocated to a ‘theme park’ to act as a reminder of South Africa’s harsh history.

“The cluster advocated for the development of a theme park or theme parks which will be cultural spaces hosting the relocated statues or memorials. The ‘theme’ for the theme parks will be for the protagonists of colonialism and apartheid,” he said.

“We have decided that they should be preserved and not thrown into ‘the dustbin’ of history. Our own experience shows us that if you opt for the route of dumping them, people are going to demand them.”

The proposal was lodged to contribute towards nation building and ensure that public spaces reflect the constitutional values of a post-colonial and post-apartheid society. However, the DA argues this will sanitise the country’s history and allow government to control historical narratives.

“This move by the ANC government essentially aims to create sanitised public spaces reflecting a government-approved history that pays tribute to government-approved heroes. Removing statues, symbols and monuments that do not form part of this narrative to “theme parks” allows the ANC government to control how these statues are presented in the historical narrative to future generations. It silences the voices of the people for whom these statues, and the stories they tell, hold meaning, and denies them space in the new South Africa,” they argued in a statement.

They plan to write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts, and Culture in Parliament, Ms Beauty Dlulane, to request that the consultative task-team leading the process appears before the Committee so that their decision-making process can be interrogated.

“Far from contributing to “nation-building”, as the Cabinet’s statement in this regard claims, this move will contribute to the polarisation of our society. The decision to remove any statue or monument (and likewise the decision as to where it will be removed to) must be done on a case-by-case basis at community-level, and only after a process of extensive public participation,” the political party added.

“The DA regards the moving of statues and monuments in a very serious light. It creates serious questions around the ANC government’s intention of nation-building. It is clear that with this Cabinet decision the ANC government feels that South Africa does not belong to all who lives in it, but that some has a stronger right to be part of it than others.”

Picture: The Democratic Alliance

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