Minister Nathi Mthethwa welcomes the Task Team’s recommendations on the Transformation of the Heritage Landscape

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23 Dec 2016

Arts and Culture Minister, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, welcomes the report from the Ministerial Task Team on the transformation of the heritage landscape.

The Minister of Arts and Culture convened a national consultative workshop on 17 April 2015 to address the challenges facing the transformation of the heritage sector with a particular focus on statues, place names and symbols that define public spaces. The immediate catalyst for the meeting was the defacement and destruction of colonial and apartheid era monuments by those calling for the transformation of institutional culture and accelerated change in the heritage landscape to reflect the new and democratic era.

Out of this initiative and other consultative meetings, a Task Team was appointed to assist the Department in the transformation of the Heritage Landscape.

The Task Team recently completed its work and the resultant report proposes significant changes to the heritage landscape.

“The Task Team has applied itself to the important work of expediting the transformation of the heritage sector. Their findings are well grounded in a thorough and nuanced understanding of the heritage landscape and proposes what must be done to hasten change so that the landscape is inclusive and reflective of the true history of South Africa.”

“It is time to take these recommendations to the wider community, produce measurable, focus on tangible deliverables, and effect change,” said Minister Mthethwa.

Out of the initial consultative meeting arose 20 resolutions which the Task Team used as its springboard, arriving at fundamental principles and actions needed for the transformation processes.

The Task Team convened consultative meetings throughout the nine provinces and the report with findings incorporates the extensive consultations.

The Task Team report examines the  resolutions of the national consultative meeting and groups them into 4 clusters: (i) Public education; (ii) Legislative efficacies, (iii) the future of the heritage landscape including the fate of contentious statues and monuments, and (iv) Institutional capacity.

The Task Team’s recommendations and actions include:

·       That the content of the National School’s Curriculum must be amended to reflect South African history objectively. The Task Team calls for a review of the curriculum, with the Department of Arts and Culture working with the Department of Basic Education in this regard, and that there should be appropriate links with higher education institutions as part of the transformation process.

·  That transformation processes need to be more inclusive of rural communities:

· That it is necessary to also develop strategies for the protection and management of Rock Art sites.

· That there should be a strengthening of the law to aid the process of transformation and that new regulations be considered if necessary.

· That an audit be conducted of the heritage landscape to identify offensive statues and place names to determine what must happen to statues deemed offensive as well as names of towns, suburbs and all place names that are deemed offensive.

Minister Mthethwa will convene a report back meeting with civil society organisations, university students and affected groups early in 2017 to present the final report. The full report will be released at that gathering as part of the report back.

“The report is insightful and cuts to the chase. We are looking at this report with a view to implementation.”

“The past is never just the past. For once and for all, we need to make hard decisions to ensure the unflinching transformation of the heritage sector so that we can move on and carve a common path together as  South African people. The Task Team has greatly assisted us in our endeavour and helped to point the way,” said Minister Mthethwa.

For more information, contact: Lisa Combrinck at 082 821 4886