The Democratic Alliance (DA) strongly condemns the endorsement by President Ramaphosa's Cabinet this week of a "full audit of all statues, symbols and monuments", and for statues, symbols or monuments that do not "reflect the constitutional values of a post-colonial and post-apartheid democratic order" to be removed from public spaces and relocated to "theme parks" across the country.
The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts, and Culture in Parliament, Ms Beauty Dlulane, to request that the consultative task-team leading the process appears before the Committee so that their decision-making process can be interrogated.
This move by the ANC government essentially aims to create sanitised public spaces reflecting a government-approved history that pays tribute to government-approved heroes. Removing statues, symbols and monuments that do not form part of this narrative to "theme parks" allows the ANC government to control how these statues are presented in the historical narrative to future generations. It silences the voices of the people for whom these statues, and the stories they tell, hold meaning, and denies them space in the new South Africa.
Far from contributing to "nation-building", as the Cabinet's statement in this regard claims, this move will contribute to the polarisation of our society. The decision to remove any statue or monument (and likewise the decision as to where it will be removed to) must be done on a case-by-case basis at community-level, and only after a process of extensive public participation.
The DA regards the moving of statues and monuments in a very serious light. It creates serious questions around the ANC government's intention of nation-building. It is clear that with this Cabinet decision the ANC government feels that South Africa does not belong to all who lives in it, but that some has a stronger right to be part of it than others.