Minister Nathi Mthethwa gets parties to agree to work together at Heritage transformation consultative meeting

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18 Apr 2015
The Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr. Nathi Mthethwa hosted a consultative meeting on the transformation of the heritage landscape at Freedom Park, Pretoria on Friday 17 April. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the defacing, vandalism and removals of statues without following proper processes and guidelines as stipulated in the South African National Heritage Resources Act. The meeting followed protests by students and many other interest organizations that called for either for the removal or retention of certain statues and symbols.  In an attempt to ensure that all relevant stakeholders were afforded an opportunity to make a contribution, Minister Mthethwa invited all political parties represented at the National Assembly, community organizations, academics, students, lobby grouped, cultural workers and organizations as well as private individuals and organizations. 
 
Mthethwa opened the meeting by asking delegates to repeat after him as he read the Preamble of the Constitution o South Africa. He emphasized especially the part that read "...heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights".  He continued to call upon delegates to look for solutions and work together to move the country forward. "While we want to repeat that no person may destroy, damage, deface, excavate, alter, remove or subdivide a statues or symbols without a permit issued by the South Africa Heritage Resources Agency, recent events led by students at the University of Cape Town give us an opportunity to finally address the subject of heritage transformation," said Mthethwa. 
 
The day-long meeting was an honest conversation by delegates who represented different interests and were not afraid to express themselves. The deliberations were robust and yet dignified and solution-seeking. Delegates agreed that they wanted good for the country and it was in anyone's interest to make find amicable and sustainable solutions. The meeting ended in early evening and the delegates agreed on the following resolutions:
 
Create a forum for public dialogue, education and awareness. 
Create a new multiple-cultural consciousness.
 Perform full audit and categorization of the heritage sector across the country. 
Identify offensive symbols and statues through a consultative and educative process that will lead to their removal and relocation
Establish Memorial Historical Theme Parks for Statues arranged and curated for a narrative historical education and themed interpretation. These parks will be established at local, provincial and national levels. Declare these sites as heritage sites for future management and protection
 
Establish Task Team that will ensure the acceleration of the process of identification, consultation and relocation of statues for a period between minimum of three years and a maximum of than five years
Review and build the capacity of regulatory bodies such as the South African Heritage Resources Agency and related agencies at local and provincial levels. 
Establish a special dispensation foregrounding the Heritage of Khoi and San people
Establish symbols and programs that celebrate African people and their history on a Continental scale as a way of affirming African identity as an antidote to South African "exceptionalism" and insularity 
Create a Heroes' Acre to celebrate those who fought against oppression
Conduct intra-African dialogue and multi-cultural consciousness
Develop disposal policy 
 
Identify key protagonists of oppression and remove their statues and symbols from public spaces
Places of national and international importance should be subjected to a national consultative process than those in local municipalities for Chang or review
Retained or changed names should be accompanied by public education process about chosen names or symbols
Encourage a process that goes beyond recognition of political figures to include other figures who assisted in nation-building including pre-colonial figures or symbols
Establish a monitoring body to ensure that consultative and other requisite processes are followed and complied with
Conduct an audit and special dispensation for misspelt and offensive names to be changed within a specified period
 
Revisit heritage transformation and Resolutions of the Social Cohesion Summit
Ministries of Basic Education, Higher Education and Arts and Culture should interact and coordinate transformation and curriculum review
Establish monuments that represent more than individuals or particular culture as well as interactive monuments
Introduce National Symbols to schools
 Reflect on the journey of transformation
Collaboration of cultural communities for retrieval of remains for repatriation and healing
 
Minister Mthethwa thanked all delegates for their contribution and committed that his office would continue to work with all organizations to implement the resolutions of the meeting.
 
Enquiries: Mack Lewele 082 450 5076/012 441 3083