Memorial destruction and disrespect

Athol Trollip (MPL),

Leader of DA in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature:

The Democratic Alliance (DA) believes that the current raging debate about “offensive” monuments and memorials, and the wanton destruction thereof is something that warrants sensible political leadership.  We cannot erase history, nor should it be desirable to do so in a South Africa with so much to learn from the past.

A DA government in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (NMBM) would recognise the past as well as ensure that an inclusive historical record is respected.  We would erect new monuments and memorials to honour and show respect to past and modern day heroes of all our communities. In this regard, we believe that it is more responsible to be a party that leads a process of construction rather than destruction.

After the vandalisation of a number of statues in the city over the weekend, the destruction of the horse memorial statue is an illustration of a society that is moved by anger and political opportunism, and that is ignorant of the facts behind the erection of these statues and memorials.

Upon visiting the “Langa memorial” in Uitenhage today, my colleagues (MPL Bobby Stevenson, Cllr Retief Odendaal, Cllr Franay van de Linde and Cllr Sandile Rwexana) and I witnessed that this site too had been vandalised and desecrated.  The memories of those commemorated at this memorial have been defiled by the wanton vandalisation of this historic site. This speaks of a general disrespect by certain elements in society that are only going to be encouraged to cause more destruction by political opportunists.  The historical mission handed over to us by our first democratic President Nelson Mandela, challenges us to pursue a truly transformed, inclusive society based on reconciliation. President Mandela did not support the destruction of monuments, but rather the building of new ones, and the incorporation of existing monuments into an inclusive vision for the future of our society.

The build up to the 2016 election will see more of this kind of political opportunism from desperate fringe political parties and from the governing party that is determined to avert the ever more critical glare of public scrutiny and unhappiness over issues of poor service delivery, maladministration and corruption.  No political party should be allowed to destroy the record of our history nor to compromise our ongoing process of national reconciliation.

The DA therefore urges everyone in the NMBM to reject the current calls to destroy and eradicate historical monuments and statues, but rather to be part of building a united and comprehensive reflection of our collective history in SA and this city, the future success and prosperity of our nation depends on this.

Photos of the Langa memorial site visit can be found here, here, here, here and here