EFF seeks to remove colonial symbols in FS

The removal of statues erected under the Apartheid regime and other colonial artefacts will soon be heatedly debated in the Free State Legislature.

This, as the Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) are on Tuesday expected to debate a motion submitted by the EFF seeking to remove the so-called colonial symbols at various institutions.

The sitting of the House, set to take place at 14:00, is also expected to see members of the Executive Council give oral replies to questions posed by opposition parties. The EFF Provincial Chairperson, Mandisa Makesini, told OFM News that it is appalling that none of the artefacts at the Fourth Raadsaal, where legislative decisions are made in the Free State, resemble the diversity of the province nor the role played by several struggle stalwarts in the liberation of the country.

The motion being pushed through by the EFF also comes just days after the University of the Free State’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Francis Petersen, told the media that the relocation of the MT Steyn statue from the Bloemfontein Campus has been more challenging than meets the eye.

He announced that, following an application made to the Free State Heritage Resource Authority earlier this year, they now await a decision by the Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, as the removal of the statue is being appealed by two private entities.

OFM News last week reported that Petersen confirmed that a process that was expected to take a few weeks has dragged on for more than nine months due to logistics by the Free State Heritage Resource Authority over the university’s application for a permit.

He said after reaching an agreement with the University Council and the Steyn family about the removal of the statue, it was decided that the statue will be relocated to the Bloemfontein War Museum.

He says the process to obtain an application from the Heritage Authority has, however, taken longer than anticipated as the Heritage Authority at some point mistakenly said the university did not comply with the National Environmental Management Act and at another point said the university had to make a second application for the statue to be erected at the war museum.

Once it was concluded that the application of the second permit lies with the War Museum, it was then discovered that there are parties who appealed the relocation of the statue stating that the decision by the university to relocate it excludes certain cultural groups and is an attack on certain racial groups.

The Freedom Front Plus in the Provincial Legislature has meanwhile cited the same reasons and accused the EFF of racial polarisation.