The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture, Beauty Dlulane, to request that Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa give account to the committee on the whole debacle surrounding the moving of certain statues, symbols and monuments to "theme parks".
The final report of the task team that was established in 2016 to investigate public sentiment regarding statues in South Africa after the Paul Kruger and Jan van Riebeeck statues were damaged in 2015, must also be made public for proper scrutiny.
The DA finds it highly irregular that task team members have yet to lay eyes on the final report. We are also worried that due process was not followed regarding public participation.
The DA calls for clarity on the following:
Where was the initial call to participate published or announced?
How many people gave commentary on the removal of the statues?
Where will the funding for the removal of the statues and the construction of the heritage parks for cultural nation building come from? The Sports, Arts and Culture budget is already under severe strain with most museums and heritage sites battling to survive, maintain and upgrade themselves.
The task team's mandate ended in 2019. Who will conduct the audits of which statues, symbols and monuments are "too offensive" for public consumption?
Will the task team's mandate be extended?
Will a new task team have to be established, and at what cost; and lastly
Who decided on the term "theme parks" in the first place?
The government is quick to build heritage sites in the hopes of celebrating South African history, but just as quick to forget about them when it comes to maintaining the sites and paying the bills.
The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure have a notoriously bad working relationship that ultimately leads to poor development and upkeep of these sites.
The moving of certain statues at this point seems like nothing more than an effort to divert attention from the atrocities of the country's most recent history, including rampant Covid corruption.