By George Mari, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Arts and Culture:
(The following debate took place in the KZN Legislature on Friday, 18 September 2015)
SINCE the advent of democracy in our country there has been a strong need to highlight and promote our rainbow nation’s heritage, arts and culture and history.
This promotion of our rich past is critical for tourism and job creation in KZN particularly as we witness more and more jobs being lost under and ANC-led government.
This can be achieved if KZN invests in heritage sites and educates both tourists and local communities about our diverse legacy in order to preserve our history.
The DA believes that KZN’s ANC-led government is failing in this regard.
The Indian Documentation Centre in Durban – now called the KZN Heritage Centre – houses the history of the Indian community’s arrival in our country. Four years ago, Premier Mchunu promised to erect a monument in Durban to commemorate the arrival of the Indian community and their contribution to the liberation of our country.
This is yet to happen.
South Africa belongs to all who live here and our history, heritage, arts and culture must be used to fight racism, promote social cohesion and promote reconciliation at every level.
In this regard, a multi-million rand Bridge of Reconciliation opened by President Zuma late last year near Vryheid, is fast turning into another “white elephant” for KZN.
Access to the bridge, which connects the Ncome Museum and the Blood River Monument is allegedly blocked, with one side locked and bolted – this as a result of simmering tensions between two different communities on opposite sides of the river.
The DA is deeply concerned by this news.
While we welcome the motivation behind the construction of such a bridge it is clear that it is failing to bring about the unity that was intended.
Another concern is the marketing of heritage sites in KZN. Despite the fact that rural communities rely heavily on Heritage sites and the income derived from them to uplift themselves, many are not being properly exposed. One such site is the Nelson Mandela Capture site.
Municipalities alone cannot maintain these sites. Ezemvelo needs help financially if it is to properly carry out its mandate as do NGO’s such as the Wildlife Association,
Government’s role in reconciliation in our country cannot be over emphasised. The DA believes that our museums, art centres and heritage sites can be used far more to build bridges of reconciliation in our province and our country.