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Ramaphosa backs campaign to remove statues glorifying SA's apartheid past

President Cyril Ramaphosa 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.

President Cyril Ramaphosa during his address on COVID-19 measures on 16 September 2020. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - 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.

CONTINUE UPHOLDING THE RIGHTS OF ALL

Ramaphosa has 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.

“We will recover from this crisis and rebuild our lives and our economy. We will continue to strive to eradicate poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. We will continue to uphold the rights of all our people to practice their cultures, to speak their languages and to practice their traditions.”

The president has also commended those working with traditional medicinal to help find a cure for the virus.

"In as much as we join the international community and search for diagnostics and therapeutics, we are also looking at the real and important contribution indigenous knowledge systems, particularly traditional medicine can play in improving the life outcomes of our people."

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