Pretoria – Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams was shocked to discover the Women’s Living Heritage Monument at Lillian Ngoyi Square in Pretoria was still not fully operational.
Yesterday, he visited the site and said the supposedly “living” Women’s Living Heritage Monument was “not alive”. He said it should have already been a place that reminded people, especially young women, of the history and sacrifices of the bold women of the liberation Struggle.
“The women must be turning in their graves at the sight of this monument that has been unattended to,” he said.
Williams said the City would be doing everything to engage with the provincial government to ensure that the project came to fruition. “This project will be on top of our list of priorities. It’s more than just a monument, it’s an area with a wealth of knowledge that could better equip generations to come.”
He said they might look at a feasible way of taking over the project.
“If all else fails, we will be looking at how we can take over the project as the City and make sure it comes to fruition,” he said.
The Women’s Living Heritage Monument project was initiated in 2012 and was to be completed in 2015. It was officially unveiled in August 2016 but construction was only completed in August 2018.
Delays in it being fully operational were blamed on finalising the installation of the first phase of heritage works, and yesterday Williams said this clearly indicated the incompetence of the department.
“This means that the department is not interested in boosting the economy through tourism sites such as this Women’s Living Heritage Monument,” he said.
“The department is prepared to waste R2 million annually for the maintenance and upkeep of this facility which is not fully operational.
“In honour of the historical legacy of our women, we call on (Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation) MEC (Mbali) Hlophe to speed up the finalisation of this project.”
Williams said a comprehensive survey of heritage sites would be crucial, not only to recognise the different contributions that communities had made over decades, but to remind people anew of their rich diversity and how it shaped nations.
“Whether it was the voortrekkers who turned their backs on colonialism at the time or whether it was the freedom fighters of the eighties who rejected oppression on the grounds of race, in all these epochs there is a common denominator – the pursuit of freedom and human dignity,” he said.
He said it was only when everyone acknowledged each other’s cultural spaces for mutual understanding and respect that they could hope to rediscover common humanity.
“The iconic Voortrekker Monument, for example, is currently facing major challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the fact that tourism has come to a standstill.”