As South Africa celebrates Heritage Day, one of the places that reflects the country’s history and tells the perfect story of its heritage is parliament. There, the past can be revisited in statues and paintings, while more recent events can also be experienced through beadwork and photography. The two Houses of Parliament and its precinct were declared a heritage site in 2014.
Parliament’s two most prominent buildings, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, tell the story of this country’s history. In the words of the country’s first democratically elected, President Nelson Mandela, this is supposed to be a people’s parliament.
Freedom Front Plus Chief Whip, Corne Mulder, says heritage is about providing a balanced record of past and present.
“Heritage is all of the country, even what you don’t like. So, history and heritage must be reflected that way … can’t remove statues from colonial past for instance because its the history, it tells the story. We should rather add to give holistic picture of the country and so that (we) can learn more about the past.”
But does it reflect the people of the country and continent?
IFP chief whip, Narend Singh, says a lot more could be done.
“Mace in NA is the most significant, redesigned in 1994 to reflect South Africans, but as we move forward (we) can do more,” he says.
Singh’s counterpart in the ACDP, Steve Swart, says the traditions in the houses of parliament bring the country together.
Parliamentary Spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, says that the heritage in parliament is representative of all the country’s richness.”