We could have done more over 21 years: Mthethwa

By Drum Digital
09 April 2015

The ANC government could have done more since 1994 to erect statues representing the new South Africa.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa made the comment on Wednesday in the midst of the controversy surrounding statues which has swept the country over the past few days.

After criticism about a lack of government leadership regarding this thorny issue, Mthethwa said in an exclusive interview with Beeld that he would "within a day or two" announce a national day of dialogue on the future of the country's colonial statues and monuments.

During the occasion, which is being planned for this month, political parties, interested groups and students would enter into a conversation about South Africa's controversial statues and monuments and deliberate on the way forward.

Nation building

Mthethwa said he understood people's anger and frustration.

“It is the pains of nation building and is not about the statues per se.

“The statues represent what people see as racialism. People’s anger is an expression of their frustration with the slow pace of transformation. People start looking around and say things are the way they are because this specific person is being glorified.”

Only a handful of statues of black prominent heroes had been erected since 1994.

A nine-metre statue of former president Nelson Mandela was unveiled at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 2013 and a Mandela bust was erected in Parliament last year. Parliament has also recently acquired statues of Walter and Albertina Sisulu.

Mthethwa noted that there were not enough statues and symbols of black heroes and the ANC government had constructed too few new images over the past 21 years.

“Yes, we could have done more. We could have been much quicker,” he said.

The anger boiling over now was not surprising, Mthethwa said.

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