|9. April 2015
Rhodes statue to be removed from UCT
The University of Cape Town’s council ruled that the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, the centre of much debate over the last few weeks, must be removed.
On March 27, the university said its Senate had “voted overwhelmingly in favour of recommending to council that the statue of Rhodes be moved when council holds its special sitting on Wednesday, April 8 2015”.
The council’s decision follows weeks of protest and debate over the statue that began when some activists threw human waste on it.
The matter has come to be known as the “Rhodes Must Fall” debate. Earlier students stormed the room where the council members were meeting to discuss whether the state of Cecil John Rhodes will be removed from it’s campus.
Students told the council that the meeting was not legitimate because there are no black women representatives.
The council announced that the meeting could not continue after students insisted they are staying and want to observe.
Council members who tried to leave the meeting room were blocked by students as shouting matches between various parties take place.
One council member, who is in need of his diabetes medication, was not allowed to leave the room as student continued to block the room.
UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price wanted the statue moved and not destroyed, but his suggestion was rejected by some students.
The matter has also sparked defacement of other colonial-era monuments around the country, including a statue of King George VI at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the throwing of green paint on a statue of Paul Kruger in Pretoria.
The EFF has admitted to defacing Kruger’s statue.
Meanwhile, the Louis Botha statue outside Parliament’s gates was smeared with red and dark blue paint on Wednesday evening. The words at the base of the statue, “Louis Botha Farmer Warrior Statesman 1862 - 1919”, were covered in red paint with a bit of black, while blue paint was splashed on the horse and over Botha’s legs.
No one has claimed responsibility for the act. Earlier this morning, EFF spokesperson tweeted a 30second video of the stained statue along with the words “Louis Botha must go in front on parliament”, repeating a message by party leader Julius Malema, who last month told fighters to take down statues that were symbols of colonialism and apartheid. “How you go about it is none of my business. The statues must go,” said Malema during a Human Rights Day event in KwaLanga.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe tapped into the controversy over Cecil John Rhodes during his state visit to South Africa as he joked that Zimbabwe had his corpse and South Africa had his statue.
“We in Zimbabwe did not know about Rhodes until South Africa said they had someone called Rhodes in Cape Town who was prime minister of the Cape, and who in that mischievous way wanted our country Zimbabwe under his control.
“But not just his control. So, well, you may have this statue, because that’s where he began. “But he came to us and wanted to be buried and we have him down below in the Matopas because that is where he wanted to die. “He was a strange man ...,” said the 91-year-old Mugabe.
“So we are looking after the corpse and you have the statue. I don’t know what you think we should do. Dig him up? Perhaps his spirit might rise again, what shall we do?” Mugabe said, surprising journalists with half an hour of comments on a wide range of topics after bilateral agreements between the two countries had been signed.
Zuma covered his mouth to hide his own laughing and at times his shoulders shook at Mugabe’s offbeat comments.
“Well now, we have our people and we are president Zuma in South Africa and President Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
“That’s what we fought for.” He said he hoped everybody was “freedom fighters”. “Apartheid is gone. I hope you have buried it down like we did Rhodes”.
Press comments on the populist campaign were ambigous. „Removal of statue a diversion from real problems“ wrote Letepe Maisela in The Star (April 7). „One thing this Rhodes statue debacle has exposed is our glaring lack of responsible and mature leadership in South Africa ... This rightly or wrongly might be compared to the Isis crusade in the Middle East where they have been on a mission to destroy statues and artefacts from ancient times.“
(Mail&Guardian and The Star Johannesburg)