Nothing to celebrate as our heritage is on a brink of collapse 

Heritage Month is symbolic as it is about celebrating our diverse cultures and reflecting on how far we have gone and achieved as a country.

Today, as we celebrate the actual Heritage Day, l can see many people dressed in their cultural regalia to demonstrate who we are and where we come from.

We must not forget where we come from as a country and where we are striving to go. Our beloved diverse country is on a brink of collapse, we can see with the current blackouts that we are experiencing as a country.

The fact that our country is collapsing is also seen through the state of Gauteng heritage sites which are in a terrible state even though there are millions of rands allocated annually for the maintenance and operationalisation of our heritage sites.

While we commemorate Heritage Day today, there is nothing to celebrate in Gauteng as several facilities worthy of preservation remain a shadow of their former selves.

As part of the DA Heritage Month Campaign, we have conducted oversight inspections of the following heritage monuments so far; O R Tambo Precinct in Ekurhuleni, Boipatong Monument and Youth Centre in Vanderbijlpark, Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre in Krugersdorp and Women’s living heritage monument in Tshwane

All these heritage monuments have similar challenges, they are not operational or not well maintained.

* The OR Tambo Cultural Precinct is on a brink of collapsing due to years of neglect by the previous ANC-led Ekurhuleni administration. The facility is unsuitable for human habitation as it poses a serious safety risk. The ceiling is damaged and falling off, walls have cracks, the exterior walls are also peeling off, and the ablution facilities are not functional.
* The Boipatong Monument and Youth Centre is still not operational and not benefitting the residents.
* The state-of-the-art Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre has been abandoned and left to crumble while residents suffer with no access to sporting facilities.
* Women’s living monument which was built at the cost of R200 million an since it was opened R78 million was spent on it yet the monument is not operational an poses a safety risk.

It is disappointing that there is a lack of progress from this current government with regards to ensuring that our heritage monuments are fully operational and are benefiting our residents.

Experience has shown that where there are delays in the completion of projects, there is a corrupt element involved.

This means that millions of taxpayer’s monies spent on the construction of these heritage monuments and the operational costs will go down the drain because they are still not functional. The longer these facilities remain unoccupied and not utilised the become vulnerable to vandalism and theft.

These heritage monuments have the potential of boosting local tourism and creating employment opportunities for their residents as well as empower them with the necessary skills to be able to earn a living.

This current government has been dragging its feet on getting our monuments fully operational. With these remaining one year and some months, we will continue to demand that this current government must reprioritise the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation’s (SACR) expenditure plans to ensure proper budget allocation, focusing on the core mandate of the department of providing universal access to sports and facilities.

The DA has plans on how to get our heritage monuments operational, come 2024 when a capable DA government is voted into power, we will do the following: conduct a forensic audit into the state of all our heritage monuments and reprioritise the budget to ensure that they are completed and fully operational. We will also tighten control and oversight roles to ensure that they are functioning accordingly and for the benefit of our residents.

As we leave here today we must as ambassadors and activists of the DA paint the length an breath Gauteng blue, cover every nook an corner of Gauteng, knock on every door an speak to every voter in Gauteng, register all eligible voters who are not registered and ensure that the DA wins Gauteng outright in 2024 in order for Gauteng residents to experience and feel what is the like to live in society characterised by values of freedom, freedom, Fairness and diversity.

For Gauteng Residents to live in corruption free province where services are rendered on a continuous an sustained basis.

Destroying our heritage sites incites hatred and disregards our rainbow nation

As the nation celebrates Heritage Day, we challenge all South Africans to unite despite our differences, to learn from each other and rebuild our nation.

South Africa is a richer place because of our diversity and heritage sites are a unifying force to help us build our nation. The diversity of our beliefs, culture, and language is what sets us apart as South Africans.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns in the strongest terms the EFF ‘s picket for the removal of the Paul Kruger statue as part of celebrating Heritage Day. These actions disregard the importance of our heritage and incites hatred amongst different cultures and races.

It is unacceptable for the EFF to use this symbolic day to call for destruction and racial division within our country instead of bringing our people together.

Destroying this statue will not heal the nation from the injustices of the past. For the nation to succeed we must learn from the past and each other’s history.

Now is not the time to break down, remove or destroy, but to unite, learn and rebuild.

The DA is the only party that is diverse and big enough to bring people together and we believe that we should create more open spaces for additional statues and heritage sites, where we can come together to reflect on our past and focus on our future.

The DA in Tshwane has worked hard in our campaign, wards, and city to ensure that we have regular clean-up campaigns at all our heritage sites such as the Solomon Mahlangu Square, Church Square, Komjekejeke Cultural Village, Voortrekker Monument, the Synagogue, parks, and cemeteries.

Together through these campaigns and visits to our cultural heritage sites, we champion the preservation of all cultures and their heritage in our country.

South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity we can win as a nation. Now is the time to come together as we build a caring society with an active citizenry.

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Gauteng Heritage sites in a state of disrepair

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern the terrible state of Gauteng heritage sites as the country celebrates National Heritage Day tomorrow.

Most of the Gauteng heritage sites are in a state of disrepair yet there is money allocated annually for the maintenance of these heritage sites.

The following heritage sites are a disgrace and an insult to our heritage:

  • Solomon Mahlangu Square: a bronze statue of the late struggle icon Solomon Mahlangu mounted on a large pedestal in the centre of a circular paved area is in a dreadful state. The decorative square plaques at the base of the statue have been removed. The surrounding fences have been stripped and litter is scattered everywhere. A stench of urine and human faeces hangs over the site. All in all, the monument is in a state of utter dilapidation, disrepair, and degradation.
  • Mamelodi Rondavels: the iconic Mamelodi Rondavels and the Heritage Centre in Mamelodi West D6 section is a miserable sight. It was burnt down in 2019 and was never restored; instead, it was allowed to fall into further ruin. The 1940s thatch-roofed rondavels were once a college where Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was schooled.
  • Madiba Alexandra House: The former international icon, Nelson Mandela’s house in Alexandra, a heritage site which the Gauteng Provincial Government promised to convert into a museum has been abandoned and left to deteriorate.
  • Magaliesberg’s picturesque landscape: the picturesque landscape of the Magaliesberg mountains in Hartbeespoort has been ravaged by illegal loggers who are cutting down trees in the protected biosphere.
  • Rotunda building: the historic Rotunda building in Braamfontein has been vandalised and the roof is being removed bit by bit.
  • Cradle of Humankind: there is pollution in the rivers flowing through the Cradle of Humankind, and Mogale City’s inaction is a risk to the environment, a health hazard and affects the cultural status of the area. The archaeological and palaeontological resources of the site have been listed as one of 53 sites around the world that are in danger of losing their status, according to Unesco.
  • Boipatong Monument and Youth Centre: is still not fully operational despite being completed in November 2015. This facility is plagued by numerous problems which includes the following: structural defects as a result of poor workmanship; sewer blockages; broken windows and air-conditioners not functioning.
  • Women’s Living Museum in Pretoria: this facility remains non-operational, four years after its unveiling.

It is concerning that our heritage sites are in a terrible state despite the that fact that there are millions of rands allocated annually for the maintenance and completion of our heritage sites.

While the country continues to commemorate Heritage Month, there is nothing to celebrate in Gauteng as several facilities worthy of preservation remain a shadow of their former selves.

The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe should be held accountable for the terrible state of our heritage sites.

The DA has tabled questions to MEC Hlophe in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain how the heritage site budget allocation is being spent and to determine when last the department conducted an audit on the state of our heritage sites in Gauteng. We request the MEC to conduct this audit as a matter of urgency.

R15.2 million allocated for all public holidays in Gauteng

In a written response to a DA question, Gauteng Premier David Makhura revealed that R15.2 million of the provincial budget will be spent on public holidays in the province.

This is a colossal waste of public funds as money could be better spent in developing the township economy and assisting the 242 000 young people that are unemployed in the province with finding a job.

The Premier revealed the breakdown of costs per public holiday as follows:

Freedom Day – 27 April R2.4 million
Workers Day – 1 May R200 000
Youth Day – 16 June R3.2 million
Women’s Day – 9 August R2.5 million
Heritage Day – 24 September R8 million + R2.5million from Arts & Culture budget

The Premier and the ANC have only paid lip service to the “radical economic transformation” they wish to implement in the province.

The provincial government could have collaborated with civil society, trade unions and private organisations to drastically cut expenditure and save money on these days of national celebration.

However, the ANC-run province of Gauteng will now further extend a hand of patronage to service providers closely linked to their organisation.

The DA will submit further questions on these celebrations to ascertain the exact amount of money spent, supply chain management processes followed and the procurement of service providers in order to celebrate these days.

It is disingenuous that jobseekers in the province struggle to find work whilst millions of rands are spent on frivolous ribbon-cutting exercises.

Media Enquiries

Kingsol Chabalala MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts, Culture and Heritage
060 558 8299

Yaseen Carelse
Media and Issues Specialist
073 895 5789

DA Debates Motion On Heritage Day

Speech by: Paul Willemburg MPL

“Are we succeeding in building a cohesive society?”

  • We won’t be successful in uniting our Nation, by continuously playing the race card.
  • We should have respect for religion, ethnicity and race, but we should also have respect for gender; respect for sexual orientation and respect for the disabled. It means tolerance and acceptance and the willingness to learn about the cultures and make a concerted effort to learn at least one of our indigenous languages.
  • Xenophobia still raises its ugly head in our country; as does homophobia. The murder of young lesbians in townships continues.
  • This new evil is rampant and prevalent in every sphere of government, and it’s called Corruption.

The full speech can be obtained here


Speech by: Kingsol Chabalala MPL

“In glimpsing backwards, we learn to move forwards”

  • Our country’s rich heritage and diversity is something every South African should be proud of. We were once divided, now united.
  • Reflection is the driver which ensures we move forward, but we are in charge of the GPS that will determine whether or not the direction we move in is favourable and inclusive to all South Africans.
  • It is important that we learn from each other in order to build a strong and united society. We must constantly open ourselves up to learning from each other.
  • If there are lessons, traditional medicines and other practices from other cultures which may improve the way we live and view the world we should take the opportunity to do so.

The full speech can be obtained here


Media enquiries:

Paul Willemburg MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts, Culture and Heritage

082 450 0815


Kingsol Chabalala MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Sport, Recreation, Arts, Culture and Heritage

060 558 8299

[Image source]

Mmusi Maimane: “Honour our Heritage by Building a Non-Racial Future”

Good afternoon, my fellow South Africans

Today is the twentieth time that we have come together as people on 24 September to celebrate our rich heritage.

Since it was proclaimed a public holiday in 1995, we have had many opportunities to reflect on our past, and to remember what brought us together as a nation. We’ve honoured people, celebrated traditions and commemorated events and places that have shaped the South Africa we see today.

Remembering and honouring the milestones of our past

But, in remembering and honouring the milestones of our past, one of the places that has largely been overlooked is this building behind me. Given its historical significance, it should be preserved as a monument to our struggle for a free and democratic South Africa. But, as you can see here, it stands derelict and sadly neglected.

It started out as the Old Pretoria Synagogue in the 1890’s. But in 1952 the Apartheid government expropriated it and converted it into a special Supreme Court, specifically intended to try cases relating to the struggle for freedom.

Four years later, in a series of dawn raids on 5 December 1956, police would arrest 156 people under the Suppression of Communism Act and charge them with treason. They faced the possibility of a death sentence. Their trial would become one of the pivotal moments in the anti-Apartheid struggle, and certainly the most significant event in this building’s history.

The people arrested that morning represented just about every influential struggle leader at the time. And covered a number of different political persuasions including the African National Congress, South African Communist Party, Federation of South African Women, Natal Indian Congress and the South African Congress of Democrats.

All 156 defendants were initially tried in Johannesburg’s Drill Hall, but the second half of the trial took place here at the old Pretoria Synagogue building.

Throughout the trial, the State battled to build its case. And eventually in 1961, in a significant victory for freedom and a vindication of the illegitimacy of the Apartheid regime, the final 31 defendants were found not guilty in this very building.

As a court house, the building would feature again a number of times in momentous events in our history.

Eighteen months after the Treason Trial, Nelson Mandela would return here, this time to stand trial on charges of incitement to strike and leaving the country without travel documents. He would be sentenced to five years in prison with hard labour.

And another 15 years later, this same building would be the venue for the inquest into the death in custody of Steve Biko.

But it is that first big trial – the Treason Trial – that I want to speak about today.

What happened here in the late 1950’s had consequences that the Apartheid government did not foresee.

The government thought they were smothering the struggle. They thought that by intimidating, arresting and publicly trying all the leaders of the struggle – by casting the shadow of the death penalty over them – they were extinguishing the flames of resistance.

An extraordinary thing took place here

But an extraordinary thing took place here during that trial. Without realising it, the Apartheid government had succeeded in bringing together the largest gathering of struggle leaders ever assembled. They had effectively set up the biggest and most influential anti-Apartheid meeting in the history of the struggle. They had aided the beginning of a coalition of the willing, a coalition towards change, a coalition of anti-apartheid movements.

This was not a coalition of black leaders but South Africans from all walks of life.  The 156 accused included black, Indian, white and coloured leaders in numbers that reflected the country’s rich diversity.

Both here in Pretoria and at the Drill Hall in Johannesburg, struggle leaders who might not have encountered each other outside of this incarceration, were made to spend long periods of detention alongside each other.

People from different backgrounds were brought together by a common dream of freedom and democracy. Forced together by the very government whose goal was to separate them, they could exchange ideas, talk about their doubts and allay each other’s fears. I can imagine that here, the defendants would debate policy, the country’s direction,  the struggle for freedom and the hope for a better tomorrow. It was here where unity in the struggle for freedom was forged.

Even the daily journey between Johannesburg and Pretoria played a role in this unification, as this group of prisoners turned the so-called Treason Bus into a place to plot strategy, sing struggle songs and discover common ground.

In the holding cells, these prisoners remained segregated. But in the courtroom they were seated alphabetically, and this served as a daily reminder to the Apartheid government – and the world – of the struggle’s diverse make-up, and what South Africa could and should look like.

In retrospect, the Treason Trial had the proverbial unintended consequences. The spectacular collapse of their own case embarrassed the Apartheid government. The global publicity of the trial garnered a huge amount of international sympathy for the anti-Apartheid cause. And they had somehow managed to unite a fragmented, multi-racial resistance around a shared dream of a free South Africa.

In a way, this building here is so much more than an old synagogue or and abandoned courthouse. Although the authorities intended the exact opposite, this place here represents a victory of integration over segregation. Of freedom over oppression.

It is a symbol of what can be achieved when we are guided by what unites us rather than what separates us. It didn’t take long for the accused in the Treason Trial to overcome their initial doubts and suspicions. And when they realised they all wanted the same thing, they knew that their numbers were their strength.

We celebrate our heritage and honour our past

Today, almost sixty years later, we would do well to reflect on this lesson. As we celebrate our heritage and honour our past, we must ask ourselves: what can we learn from this past that will help us to own and build our future?

When I think of the events of the Treason Trial – of all the people brought together here to face a common enemy and, in the process, discover their solidarity – it is crystal clear to me. The dream of the people who sat in this courtroom was that of a unified, non-racial South Africa. A South Africa where freedom means equality, security and access to opportunities for everyone who lives here.

And in the course of the trial, they discovered that they shared this dream with many people who didn’t look exactly like them or speak their language or worship their God. But none of those things mattered. The only thing that mattered was the one thing that united them.

That united dream of theirs for a free South Africa is now woven into the fabric of our history. It is part of our heritage.

But here’s the thing about heritage: we don’t stop creating it. Everything we do today will one day be considered the heritage of our children and their children. And so we are tasked with the big responsibility of forging a new heritage that they can be proud of.

Twenty years into our democracy, this is still a work in progress. We share the dreams of Mandela, Sisulu, Kathrada, Joseph, Suzman, Leon and Zille for a non-racial future of opportunity for all, but we have not achieved them yet. We have come a long way since the fall of Apartheid, and the progress is evident all around us. But for many South Africans, this political freedom has not yet translated into economic freedom.

We must roll up our sleeves and build the country of their (and our) dreams ourselves

On this twentieth celebration of Heritage Day, if we truly want to pay homage to these leaders, we must roll up our sleeves and build the country of their (and our) dreams ourselves. A tomorrow that they dreamed of, a future of a new generation of leaders. Leaders who are not self-serving, but who dedicate their lives to the benefit of their people.

We won’t achieve this by remaining divided and mistrusting. We won’t achieve this by driving wedges between groups of people for cheap political gain. We won’t achieve this by focusing on all the things that separate us from each other.

There are people and parties in South Africa that still do this. There are parties who can only build their support around divisions and racial identity. There are racists who claim to speak on behalf of us whether we like it or not.

South Africa still remains painfully unequal on the basis of race. If you are black you are generally poor and if white, still wealthy. I can’t live with that, but I also can’t live with those who take the cause for equality and turn it into a race war. To quote Nelson Mandela at the Treason Trial:

“I want to make it clear that I am no racialist and I detest racialism as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a Black man or a White man.”

In this very place, race mattered in how people got prosecuted and tried.  Yet the defendants in the Treason Trial realised that together they could achieve freedom and together they did.

Unity in purpose needs to prevail now more than ever

Even though the struggle was for the liberation of black South Africans, it was a dream owned by all South Africans. That unity in purpose needs to prevail now more than ever.

We must own the South African dream and  believe in hope for a better South Africa for all. We must believe that a reconciled South Africa is still possible.

Friends, fellow South Africans there is one party in South Africa that is truly trying to fulfil this dream of building a non-racial future.

The DA is the most diverse party in South Africa, the most progressive party and the only party that has consistently grown since our very first democratic election.

The reason for this is that we offer a political home for all South Africans. We offer a vision for South Africa that is built purely on values that unite us: Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for all South Africans.

And because we are the only party attempting this project of uniting South Africans, we will prevail. We will work hard to take this message across the breadth of the country, and ultimately we will convince enough South Africans that the dream of a prosperous, equal and non-racial South Africa is absolutely still worth fighting for and well within our reach.

We will stand by our convictions. My predecessor of many years ago, Helen Suzman, instilled this as part of the party’s heritage. For years she was ridiculed and booed in parliament for sticking to her principles, but she was not deterred. And history has well and truly vindicated her.

As a party, we try to honour the heritage of Helen Suzman by applying the same steadfast principles in everything we do. I recently got a small taste of what life in parliament would have been like for her during the debate on the government’s failure to arrest the Sudanese president and wanted war criminal, Omar al-Bashir.

Standing on the side of our Constitution and the separation of powers, the DA had to endure a continuous chorus of booing and taunting from the ANC benches. This did not deter us. The heritage that may be before the ANC constitutes relics of past associations. Their NGC documents reflect a foreign policy that rings of a world we have left behind. The war is no longer West vs East, Communism versus Capitalism, Black versus White. It is about a contestation for a better tomorrow and a future we can ALL have.

When I listen to the ANC speak in Parliament, they appear to miss the divisions of the past, blame our energy problems on Jan Van Riebeeck, and our Minister of Police asks why anyone should be held accountable for Nkandla, when there was no accountability for such things during Apartheid.

The effects of our painful past are still with us but they can’t hold us back anymore from building a better tomorrow. Today’s contest is for Vision 2029, a better tomorrow and better heritage for our children. A tomorrow where the poor find jobs, where our communities are safer: an inclusive tomorrow founded on freedom, fairness and opportunity.

We know what job we have to do, and we know what it will take. We have accepted the responsibility to honour those who laid the foundation for our democratic society by continuing their work.

At the start of the Treason Trial, in December 1956, a photographer had planned to take a group photo of all 156 of the accused. He had obtained permission to use Joubert Park in central Johannesburg, but when the park’s superintendent saw who he was trying to photograph, he immediately withdrew his permission.

Instead, the photographer had to set them up outside the court building in four groups – seated alphabetically as per their courtroom appearance – and then stitch the four photos together. The result was a remarkable image of unified struggle, all 156 accused giving the photographer a defiant thumbs-up.

It’s a tremendous reminder of South Africa’s rich struggle heritage. The heroes in that photo knew that it was better to build a non-racial movement and that they were fighting a system and not a race. They knew they were fighting against white domination and black domination and they knew that the politics of the future ought not to be the politics of a black party vs a white party but a contestation of ideas where one man will have one vote.

And so it is perhaps fitting that I leave you, on this Heritage Day, with some words on this historic photo penned by then President Thabo Mbeki at the 50th anniversary of the Treason Trial in 2007. He wrote:

“Merely to study the faces on the photograph is to undertake a journey into our history, reminding us of the obligations on us as current members of the democratic movement as we walk in the footsteps of the patriots who were photographed here.”

I assure you, we at the DA are aware of those obligations, and we fully intend to honour them.

Our dream is their dream, our heritage must live on. Together,  we will build a non-racial party, a South African party. A heritage FOR ALL. A better future FOR ALL.

Ke a leboga


God seen Suid Afrika

I thank you!







In his autobiography, former President Nelson Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”

Mandela’s legacy is one which teaches that our common humanity is more valuable to us than our differences. We must all take personal responsibility for advancing reconciliation, and respecting and protecting all South Africans in their racial and cultural diversity.

This Heritage Day, let us all engage in a dialogue about taking responsibility for furthering the goal of a unified South Africa.

Statues are just inanimate objects built to commemorate a historical event or the life of an influential person. But times change and statues that commemorate figures from the past which might have been appropriate for their time are no longer fitting.

It must be clear to us all that we cannot erase history and we cannot escape the fact that our heritage is intertwined as South Africans.

Vandalising statues detracts from the conversation we should be having. Let’s have a conversation about every person getting the same opportunities to be the best they can be – irrespective of race or social standing.

A statue of our colonial past will be a constant reminder of the loss of our dignity when we lost our land, but at the same time it could be symbolic of our victory over apartheid. The challenge of our time is to build a new heritage and a new vision for an inclusive future.

No matter where we come from, no matter our race, no matter our culture, no matter our position in life, we all have a history – we all have a heritage. And it was Nelson Mandela who made our heritage the core of reconciliation.

Freedom and choice is the hard-won right of all South Africans.

Freedom is the right to think, say and do as we see fit, and to make our own choices in life, while remembering that in exercising them, we have responsibilities to not infringe on the rights of others.

The Constitution sets out all our freedoms. They include the right to equality and human dignity, as well as the freedom to be safe; the freedom of religion, belief and opinion; the freedom to earn a living; and the freedom that comes with having access to housing, health care, food and water. The ANC is curtailing the residents of Gauteng’s Freedoms by not giving people access to these basic rights.

People can’t enjoy their freedoms and take up their responsibilities if they don’t have the means – the skills, the tools and the opportunities – to do so. Opportunity is what enables people to be truly free; to live lives they value, to pursue their dreams, and to develop their full potential.

How can a child follow her dreams and develop her talents if she is born into poverty, if she does not receive a quality education, and if she cannot find work? That is still the situation for Gauteng’s children. Opportunity kills poverty.

The heritage of South Africa is one of diversity, united through reconciliation.

And we must continue to build that reconciliation. We must appreciate and respect the rights of every other citizen. No matter their heritage. No matter their position in life.

The state must take active measures in line with the Constitution to promote fairness – where everyone has equal access to rights and opportunities – and to ensure that the playing field is level for all South Africans.

This is the vision that is encapsulated by the DA’s Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity.

The ANC is working hard to create lasting unfairness with its cadre-deployment and nepotism.

In direct contrast, the DA wants to open this great province up to business, and to investment, so that we can stimulate economic growth and create jobs that benefit every person in Gauteng.

That is a heritage worth fighting for. That is a heritage that I want to see become a reality in Gauteng.

We must bridge the gap of inequality.

The heritage we will leave behind must be one of opportunity for all of our children.

This is what the DA is delivering where it governs and what it wants to bring to Gauteng.


Madam Speaker

The late Kader Asmal once said, “As heritage assets are either lost or destroyed, the nation loses a sense of history and national memory.”

It was once my privilege to meet with the former Irish President, Ms Mary Robinson. We talked about the liberation of Ireland in the last century and monuments such as Dublin Castle. She recalled how there was passionate debate about such buildings and the extent to which they were symbols of many generations of oppression of the Irish people by the British.

There were many that wanted these buildings destroyed to demonstrate the triumph of the people over colonialism. But in the end, the prevailing view was a pragmatic one. Ms Robinson described it as follows, “We viewed these buildings, not as the product of the thoughts of the oppressors, but as the work of the hands of Irish people. We now occupied the symbols of the colonial power. What better way to demonstrate our freedom than to occupy the spaces of those that once were masters over us.”

Moreover, as tourists gather, the symbols create the opportunity to tell the story and to relate the triumph of the Irish people and to remember those who suffered so much. By recalling these stories, generations of Irish have become passionate advocates of freedom and fairness.

It is this pragmatism that has seen the Irish economy blossom and grow. It is this pragmatism that has seen a dramatic growth in the wealth of the average Irish citizen.

Madam Speaker,

There are many facets to heritage in South Africa. UNESCO makes a broad distinction between intangible and tangible heritage assets. This motion seems to prioritise one over the other. I am of the view that we need to be passionate defenders of both categories of heritage.

You will find people that have an expertise with respect to struggle heritage.

There are others that are passionate about the mining history. Others are fascinated with archaeology. You will even find those who get enthused over steam trains!

Many of our heritage assets are vulnerable to being lost or destroyed. One can think of rock art and oral traditions as two such assets under threat.

I have observed that those nations that have best succeeded in preserving heritage have a broad section of their society engaged in a mass movement to support heritage. In the UK, 1 in every 6 households is a paid-up member of their national heritage trust, which is a private body, not for gain, not funded by government. Even in Ireland there is similar support for their private heritage trust, known as An Taisce.

When the people defend heritage, they do so much more effectively than a government can or will.

When we all embrace the heritage aspects of every one of South Africa’s diverse array of cultures, interests and backgrounds you will end up protecting the single aspect that you particularly hold a concern for.

I look forward to the day when a mass movement of all South Africans use every opportunity to take an interest in all of our heritage, right across the length and breadth.