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University of Cape Town announces decision on Rhodes statue today

APRIL 8, 2015
University of Cape Town announces decision on Rhodes statue today

After weeks of heated debate over colonial statues and monuments, the University of Cape Town (UCT) - where the debate was started by students, is on Wednesday expected to make a final decision on whether to remove the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from its grounds.

Last month, students dumped human waste on the statue and embarked on a series of protests over transformation at the institution.

Last weekend, UCT's Senate passed a proposal recommending the removal of the statue. The proposal states that the statue be permanently removed from the campus and be handed over to government's heritage authorities.

It has since been boarded up until a decision has been made.

Student activist, Chumani Maxwele, who dumped the human waste over the statue, says it has sparked dialogue about transformation.

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has meanwhile in a statement urged the UCT Council to pass a resolution on the statue's removal, saying it’s not part of the UCT National Monument declaration.

In Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, where some have called on the government to have Rhodes’ remains exhumed and repatriated to Britain, the authorities maintain that they will not take down colonial monuments – which means the statue of missionary David Livingstone, overlooking the Victoria Falls, will also stay put. 

"History is history, heritage is heritage. You cannot edit certain parts of your history because you do not like that history you then create gaps within your story.  We are now Zimbabwe but we were once a Rhodesia and there was once a colonial episode that we might not want to occur in the future, because we forgot about it the first time it happened," says Director of National Museum and Monuments Dr Godfrey Mahachi. 

Three years ago, President Robert Mugabe refused to have Rhodes’ remains send back to Britain.

"The tourists that visit his grave will now pay for him. So Rhodes must continue to pay his taxes that way. He never paid us taxes while alive, but now he can pay taxes. He never paid his dues while alive, but now we take money from the tourists that come to visit his gravesite," he told the Zanu PF congress in 2014.

Rhodes University

Meanwhile, Cecil Rhodes is also fighting for his legacy at Rhodes University, in Grahamstown, which was named after him.

Rhodes University students want the university's management to consider changing the name of the institution and have delivered a memorandum to the university's council