KZN govt undermining Archie Gumede's legacy - family

2016-03-23 14:10
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu. (Tebogo Letsie, Netwerk24)

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu. (Tebogo Letsie, Netwerk24)

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Durban – The process of erecting a statue of anti-apartheid activist and ANC veteran Archie Gumede has been marred by poor communication, his family has claimed.

"We are being undermined and it's like they are doing us a favour by erecting a statue of him," family spokesperson Bonginkosi Gumede told News24 on Tuesday.

"The statue was meant to have been unveiled on March 1 this year, on the day he died. But because of poor communication, nothing has happened."

While the family appreciated the gesture, they were disappointed that their proposal to the eThekwini Municipality, for the statue to be erected near the Nicol Square parking garage, was rejected. This was where he usually met his comrades and strategised.

Gumede said they were shocked to learn from a newspaper report that the City had decided to erect the statue at the Old Central Prison, near the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

Legacy

"We don’t want it there. He spent most of his life in prison, we don't need a statue to be there when he was a free man."

President Jacob Zuma announced during Human Rights Day celebrations on Monday that the government would erect a statue of Gumede in Durban.

Gumede, a Pietermaritzburg-born lawyer, was the first president of the United Democratic Front. He also led the Natal delegation at the 1955 Congress of the People in Kliptown, during which the Freedom Charter was adopted. He died in 1998.

"He was always the usher and did not want to be in the front seat. He really took the baton from his father Josiah Tshangana Gumede and ran with it. We feel honoured that his legacy is going to be restored," Bonginkosi Gumede said.

He said the city manager and municipality were not communicating with them. He questioned how a statue could be erected without first consulting the family and making sure they were happy.

"We feel like the city let us down. We started communicating with the Office of the Premier about the legacy project in 2014. The statue should have been ready by now."

Miscommunication

Gumede said the family had offered its house, which was rich in history, to the government as a museum, but they did not seem interested.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu's spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said they regretted any miscommunication with the family.  

"We were honestly not aware that the family was not happy about certain processes undertaken by various spheres of government and we are committed to rectifying this."

The premier’s office had contacted the family to set up a meeting. The eThekwini Municipality was not immediately available to comment on the matter.  

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