Zuma tackles colonial statues, xenophobic attacks

2015-04-10 16:29

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President Jacob Zuma has condemned the defacing of colonial statues and called for an end to xenophobic attacks around the country.

Zuma was today speaking at the official opening of the Chris Hani Memorial and Wall of Remembrance at the Thomas Nkobi Memorial Cemetery in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.

The event was attended by Hani’s widow Limpho, Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.

Zuma said people should not break the law in dealing with the colonial symbols.

“We are aware of the frustration of our people when it comes to colonial and racist figures. It is true that transformation with architecture is not happening fast enough, but destroying the figures is not the solution. We need to observe the law in this regard.”


Zuma said although they are not the most welcome sights, the statues formed an important part of our history and that the government was working to move them to more suitable locations.

“When you read a history book and you come across a painful page, you do not just rip it out.”

Blade Nzimande also weighed in on the statues, which have been an increasing point of conflict in the country over the past few weeks.

“We should not destroy them; we should build apartheid parks where people can walk through and see that is Cecil John Rhodes and this is what he did.”

Zuma said the ANC government was already hard at work, trying to rebuild a shared history that reflects its people but does not do away with its history.

“The programme of transformation has already begun. At the Union Buildings we have replaced a man on a horse with that of Nelson Mandela.”

He went on to say that the project of building heritage sites and memorials which reflect the history of South Africa was an ongoing one.

Zuma mentioned a number of struggle heroes whose homes will be renovated into heritage sites that can be appreciated by all.

“We are at work building up these places that will contribute to the economy by drawing in tourists from abroad as well as right here at home.”

Zuma said everyone needs to work together to build a shared identity that is welcoming to all South Africans, both black and white.

He called for the debate around transformation of any kind to be a conversation that is productive, rather than chaotic and counter-revolutionary.

Zuma then went on to address the issue of xenophobic attacks which have been on the rise recently.

“I want to address this perception that all foreign nationals and people born outside of this country are here illegally. This is not true. Many are here legally and in fact they contribute much needed skills to our economy.”

He said the government was working to address the issue of those that are here illegally but strongly condemned violent action against all.

“Many of our heroes such as Chris Hani sought refuge in other countries and they were treated with the dignity and respect they deserved. We need to do the same for others.”

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