President Cyril Ramaphosa has thrown his weight behind an ongoing campaign to remove statues glorifying the apartheid past.
In his virtual address marking Heritage Day on Thursday, Rampahosa said that “monuments glorifying our divisive past should be repositioned and relocated”.
“This has generated controversy, with some saying we are trying to erase our history. Building a truly non-racial society means being sensitive to the lived experiences of all this country’s people. We make no apologies for this because our objective is to build a united nation.”
The president acknowledged that South Africa comes from a history of prejudice and exclusion, and said that since democracy in 1994, the country had worked to transform its heritage landscape.
He said that the naming and renaming of towns and cities formed part of this, as well as the erection of new statues and monuments.
A campaign to remove statues glorifying historical apartheid figures is gaining momentum in the country, with support mainly from black people but there is some opposition from white citizens.
Ramaphosa also urged South Africans to continue to uphold the rights of all people and to protect indigenous languages and cultures.
With the country among the world’s top 10 worst affected by the pandemic, Ramaphosa said that the country would now work towards recovering from the global crisis and rebuilding the economy.