Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma is to blame for the defacement of statues that have occurred across the country, said Afrikaner civil rights group AfriForum on Monday.
The group said Zuma’s statement, that all of the country’s problems had originated with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck, was the catalyst for what has happened to the statues.
Among the statues that have been defaced are Mahatma Gandhi’s in Johannesburg, Paul Kruger’s in Pretoria, Louis Botha’s in front of Parliament, the statue of a soldier in Uitenhage, Queen Victoria’s in Port Elizabeth and King George V’s at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
AfriForum deputy CEO Alana Bailey said Zuma’s statement labelled Afrikaners and whites in general as scapegoats for all of the country’s problems.
“The violation of statues representing Afrikaner[s] and other prominent figures of the past, are a symptom of the growing intolerance towards Afrikaners and South African minorities in general, resulting from Zuma’s comments,” Bailey added.
AfriForum also accused the EFF of “hijacking” the statue debate for personal ideological gain even though the EFF maintains that it has been calling for colonial and apartheid-era statues to be removed since last year..
“... If statues like that of Paul Kruger, that represent an important part of Afrikaner heritage, [are] no longer welcome in public, the question may be asked whether Afrikaners are still welcome in the country under Zuma’s leadership.
“Instead of displaying leadership by taking a strong stand against the defacing of any statue, President Zuma rather rolled out the red carpet for the notorious violator of human rights and racist, [Zimbabwe President] Robert Mugabe,” Bailey said.
AfriForum urged Zuma to apologise for his “derogatory” statements and to do everything possible to promote mutual recognition and respect amongst South African communities.