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UCT council to decide the fate of Cecil Rhodes statue

The UCT’s senate voted to remove the statue after a series of protests sparked debate around the country.

FILE: University of Cape Town students leadership hold a banner in support of Rhodes University students in their bit to have Cecil Rhodes statute on 26 March 2015. Picture: Masa Kekana/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The council of the University of Cape Town (UCT) highest decision-making body will meet today to decide the fate of the Cecil John Rhodes statue.

The contentious monument has sparked a nationwide debate around transformation and colonial symbols.

Last night UCT alumni and staff met to discuss the matter following a senate vote last month where it was decided the statue should be moved.

The UCT's senate voted to remove the statue after a series of protests sparked debate around the country.

There was mixed reaction, however, from UCT alumni last night with some feeling the university management has bowed down to the protesting students demands.

The UCT alumni chairperson says although the senate has voted in favour of removing the statue, the council meeting today will not be the final step.

"So even though the university has made the commitment, from what I understand and I'm very pleased to hear to remove the statue, nevertheless it has to be kept safe so that the heritage bodies can then decide where it needs to be kept in the future."

The university's Vice-chancellor Max Prices says there will be lectures on campus about history as part of efforts to transform the institution.

Students at the university had been protesting for three weeks against the figure. They said it represented racism and a lack of transformation at the institution.

The African national Congress (ANC) said it supported students who wanted to remove it as part of their attempts to transform universities.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said transformation should not even be open for debate.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also said the institution's decision was a step in the right direction.

STATUE REMOVAL DOESN'T SOLVE ANYTHING

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says instead of tearing down colonial statues, issues of racism, discrimination and social injustice must be dealt with.

This is in the wake of UCT council meeting to discuss the fate of Rhodes statue in the institution today.

Since the launch of the "Rhodes must fall" campaign, the EFF has claimed responsibility for painting the Paul Kruger statue in Pretoria green and setting fire to the war memorial in Uitenhage's market square.

The minister says vandalising statues which are supposed to be treasured as part of the country's history is not helping bring about transformation.

"A statue is a statue, it's symbolises something but if you have taken it out it doesn't mean that you would have dealt with the problem."

Mthethwa says proper processes need to be followed to remove statues.

"If an application was done, within 30 days the consultation would have been finished. The process and the decision within 60 days would have been taken, rather than wasting your time when something could have been decided."

STATUES FORM PART OF SA HISTORY

The ANC says historical sites from the apartheid era are part of South Africa's past and should be preserved.

A number of statues in the country have come under attack in recent days. A war memorial was also vandalised in Port Elizabeth.

The ANC's, Zizi Kodwa, says such statues form a part of the country's history.

"In the contribution of the new chapter that we are writing as the country, there will still be important in terms of the role that they played in the past, although we don't accept or agree with that role."