Zuma weighs in on statues

2015-04-10 17:12
(Ahmed Areff, News24)

(Ahmed Areff, News24)

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Boksburg - President Jacob Zuma weighed in on the debate over the removal of colonial statues, saying it needed to be done according to the laws of the land.

"Destroying the statues also flies in the face of the preservation of the history of our country, including the repulsive apartheid colonial history," Zuma said on Friday at the commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of Chris Hani's assassination in Boksburg.

"What is important is that everything must be done in an orderly fashion and according to the laws of the land."

Controversy surrounding statues has swept the country over the past week.

"Future generations should know the people who colonised our country and those who introduced apartheid which was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations, and treated the black majority as pariahs in the land of their birth," he said.

"What we should discuss is, therefore, the location of these colonial and apartheid artefacts and we are happy that the debate has begun."

Zuma on Friday declared Hani's grave a heritage site.

Hani, chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe ‚ the armed wing of the ANC was assassinated on this day in 1993.

Zuma participated in a wreath laying ceremony along with family and representatives of the MKMVA, Sanco, Cosatu, SACP and the ANC.

The president unveiled the Chris Hani Memorial Monument plaque before taking a tour of remembrance.

He was accompanied by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and

Limpho Hani, Chris Hani's widow.

"An important aspect of achieving true reconciliation includes building a new heritage landscape  for our new democratic society, based on our history of fighting for freedom, justice and equality," Zuma said.

"Today [Friday] we have officially opened the Chris Hani Memorial, which will serve to educate generations of our people about his legacy and the struggle for freedom."

Inclusive heritage

Zuma said there was an ongoing process to build a new inclusive heritage for our country.

He said historic sites, individuals and organisations that made a contribution during the liberation struggle had been identified for the upgrading and declaration of historic sites.

"Through the upgrading and declaration of these historic sites, we will ensure a more representative and inclusive South African history and heritage," Zuma said.

"More importantly, this will also contribute towards shared values and a common national identity in the country."

Zuma spoke out strongly against xenophobia in the country and said government's policy on how to deal with refugees needed to be reconsidered.

"It is true that there is a high number of foreign nationals who have entered the country and are living in South Africa illegally, and government is attending to that problem and will ensure that nobody lives in our country illegally or is undocumented," Zuma said.

"However, many foreign nationals live in South Africa legally and contribute to the life and success of the country. Many are recruited to bring much-needed skills that are scarce in our country that we need to develop our economy."

Having said that, we also emphasise that no amount of economic hardship and discontent will ever justify attacking foreign nationals who own shops and other businesses. 

Earlier, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said apartheid parks should be created where offensive statues should be moved and be used to educate South Africa about its history.

"We welcome the debate about the symbols of colonial and apartheid oppression," Nzimande said.

"What we do not agree with is the smashing of statues.

"We must remove those statues that are offensive statues and create Apartheid parks where you can go through and explain one by one who they are."

Clive Derby-Lewis was convicted of conspiracy to kill Hani by providing the gun that Polish immigrant Janusz Walus used to kill Hani in the driveway of his Boksburg home.

Nzimande said the SACP did not oppose parole because it was trying to be evil but believed he withheld information regarding Hani's death.

"The truth has not been told... Derby Lewis must tell the truth," Nzimande said.

Read more on:    anc  |  sacp  |  cosatu  |  chris hani  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  monuments debate

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