Over the last couple of weeks South Africans have been engaged in debate over the calls for the removal of statues celebrating figures who played prominent roles in our country`s colonial and apartheid racist past. The statues and other such symbols are tragic reminders of a divided and exclusionary South Africa which oppressed the black majority. The reality that was colonial oppression and apartheid subjugation cannot be wished away nor their memory erased. Collectively, we have a responsibility and obligation to never forget, lest future generations were to repeat the mistakes of the past. Robust dialogue, prompted by the #RhodesMustFall campaign by students at the UCT, has ensued around our efforts at nation building, reconciliation and most importantly the glaring and blatant lack of transformation at many of our institutions.
The calls for Rhodes and other statues to fall are a symptom of the underlying problem of a lack of transformation in the institutions and in society in general. Twenty one years into democracy transformation can no longer be negotiated. The ANC unequivocally supports the calls of students for accelerated action to drive change. For too long, deep seated and institutionalised resistance to transformation has been the hallmark of many sections of our society and this untenable situation must change. South Africa must continue to engage on how best we preserve this painful history so that we never forget in support of our young democracy. We must also debate the meaning our different people attach to these symbols. As a nation we must find each other, in the absence of emotive racial polarisation, to build and unite around symbols that are an embodiment of the values and ethos of a democratic South Africa and the overarching principles of reconciliation and a common nationhood.
Issued by ANC