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.