OOM Paul’s statue at Church Square is the subject of debate yet again, after the city council resolved to support a motion by the EFF that it be excluded from the Lalela Freedom of Expression Monument. However, there is still no mention of whether the statue will be removed or not.

The resolution was passed during a council sitting on Thursday.

It was opposed by the ANC, which said this would be “against the party policies on statues and heritage”.

Last year, mayor Solly Msimanga said Church Square would be transformed into a place of open-air entertainment, called the Lalela Freedom of Expression Monument. Work has already started at the historic site.

Msimanga said the Lalela project was aimed at bringing about vibrancy in public activities in the inner city.

At the time, he said the statue would remain in place as the inner city regeneration project changed the face of Church Square around it.

EFF councillor MoAfrika Mabogwane proposed that Paul Kruger’s statue should not form part of Lalela because the apartheid leader represented “a history which is in stark contrast to the values that the monument seeks to promote”.

Mabogwane’s motion read: “The mayor in his inaugural budget speech spoke about the Lalela Freedom of Expression Monument which will be in Church Square.

“The statue of Paul Kruger which is in honour of the Boer leader represents a history which is in stark contrast to the values that the monument seeks to promote.”

According to documents dated January 25, the council resolved that the statue would not form a part of the ongoing Church Square facelift.

ANC leader in the council Mapiti Matsena said: “The ANC position is clear; there has to be a decision that statues like that of Paul Kruger be kept in some museum as part of our heritage, as part of our history, painful as it is, but it is important to keep that history.”

Mabogwane said the DA supported the EFF motion, but held the stance that the statue should not be removed.

He said he found the DA’s stance to be contradictory.

“The DA is using apartheid legislation not to remove the statue. We only want the statue of the freedom fighters,” Mabogwane said.

He threatened that EFF branch members could at any time demolish the statue.

“There is a national mandate to all the EFF branches to remove all the apartheid statues and symbols,” he said.

He declined to reveal the date on which the statue would be toppled.

“You can’t announce a day for a revolution. One day people are going to wake up and find the statue not being there,” he said.

The Lalela project was first hatched under the previous ANC administration four years ago, but never came to fruition.

The ANC emphasised its significance as introducing African cultural ownership of the square, and to acknowledge Struggle stalwarts.

Late president Nelson Mandela’s legacy was meant to be part of the exhibition on the square.

The proposed monument will feature rock excavated from a limestone quarry on Robben Island, where forced labour was used.

The estimated cost of the project, as calculated by the ANC municipality, was at least R12million.

At the time of the announcement, Msimanga said the DA-led administration was committed to creating an inclusive society and sharing the resources of the city.

“The former administration loved to talk big about creating an inclusive society in which all South Africans from different walks of life may share,” he said.

“Yet they sat on this project for almost four years after it was passed by the previous mayoral committee.”

By: iOl News


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