More “struggle” monuments on cards

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Government intends to erect a series of monuments and museums to honour the women and men who fought against apartheid. Briefing media in Parliament during a report back on the governance and administration cluster, Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile said the move followed the approval recently by Cabinet of a national liberation route, which would help preserve the history of South Africa’s armed struggle.

“This (commemoration) is across the board. We are not just looking at ANC leaders. We are looking at people that played a role in the struggle of the people of South Africa,” said Mashatile. The department has set aside the month of September to remember the country’s struggle heroes and heroines, the state BuaNews agency reports.

Already ahead of National Heritage Day this Saturday, work has started on restoring the graves of various liberation heroes and declaring them as heritage sites. While the cost of rolling out new museums and monuments would be disclosed in more detail at a later stage, Mashatile said R20 million had been set aside for the construction of a museum at OR Tambo’s home in the Eastern Cape, while R50 million had been set aside for Ngquza Hill, where the Pondoland revolt and massacre of 1960 took place.

In Mvezo, the birthplace of former President Nelson Mandela, the department is building a museum and a proposal for funding of R70 million had been developed, Mashatile said.

Roads and other infrastructure in the areas around museums and monuments would also be upgraded. Mashatile said restoration of Liliesleaf, the farm where many of the Rivonia trial members were seized during a 1963 police raid, had been completed, while work on the Steve Biko Centre in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape was also under construction. He said in certain instances, provincial governments would contribute to funding.

The department was also looking at setting up museums and sites across the border in countries such as Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania and Zambia. Currently, an interpretation centre and museum is being constructed in Matola in Mozambique, where liberation activists were massacred in the 1981 raid by the South African Air Force [sic]. Mashatile said the department was presently holding consultative meetings with members of the public in various provinces that have been convened by the respective MECs.
“The National Liberation Heritage Route is really a national project, but we allow communities down the line to do their own, sort of smaller liberation routes as well. “So in a particular community, there will be a number of people that are seen as heroes and communities are free to do so.
“We will focus mainly on what are seen as national heroes,” he said, adding that this included people like Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Albertina Sisulu, Helen Suzman, Steve Biko and Langalibalele Dube. He said in the long run, the idea was to list these sites as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. National Heritage Days celebrations will be held in Mpumalanga on Saturday, while other celebrations will be held through the country.

The department will host a summit on social cohesion on June 26 next year, which is set to coincide with the 56th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter. The summit will provide South Africans with the opportunity to reflect on the progress made in building the kind of society envisioned in the Freedom Charter.



Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi said the National Languages Bill, which would help to promote the country’s linguistic diversity and encourage respect for language rights, had been approved by Cabinet and is now before the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on arts and culture. The portfolio committee would outline the public hearings process ahead of the bill being tabled in the National Assembly, he said.