“Cash-Strapped” City of Cape Town to Spend R3.5mil on Madiba Statue

The City of Cape Town, who want to increase the costs of basic services has found R3.5 million to spend on a statue of Madiba.
Sherryn de Vos
2017-04-18
The City of Cape Town has announced that it plans on building a statue to honour Nelson Mandela. The statue will be built on the balcony in City Hall. This is the site where he made his first speech on the day that he was set free in 1990. It is an initiative to be undertaken by the City, as well as the Western Cape Government. It will commemorate the legacy of Madiba as well as the transition of South Africa into democracy. Brett Heron, Chairman of the City Council states that, thus far, little has been done to commemorate this historical space.
“The purpose of the proposed permanent exhibition is to turn City Hall into a popular tourist attraction where visitors can visualise the events and have a full experience of our journey to democracy. Numerous people and organisations had a hand in one of our nation’s most historic moments and we want to honour them as well.”

It Comes With A Questionable Price Tag

The budget that has been set aside for the building and erecting of the statue is currently sitting at around R3.5 million. But, that’s not all! Another R1.3 million a year has been budgeted to create a permanent exhibition at the City Hall. This ongoing exhibition will include interpretive panels, audio-visual equipment, and interactive displays, and will require ongoing annual maintenance and upgrades. It has been indicated that the Western Cape Government will be funding the development of the statue, while the City of Cape Town will be forking out for the ongoing exhibition. All in all, it will form part of the National Liberation Heritage Route, an initiative of the National Heritage Council and the National Department of Tourism. Government is claiming that the statue will fall into the development of a Madiba legacy route formed as part of Project Khulisa. They are backing this up by stating that it aims to add up to 100 000 jobs to the tourism sector. This, however, is not the first time that we have heard murmurings about a monument in honour of Madiba. In December, news broke that R1.7 million had been set aside for the statue. Somehow, in almost five months, the figure has more than doubled!  
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Can The City Afford Another Statue?

The City has opened the project for public opinion and, thus far, social media has already exploded with opinions. The public is questioning why the Western Cape Government is spending such an exorbitant amount on yet another statue. Especially when they are claiming to be strapped for cash in other areas. A week back, the City announced that they were looking at increasing the costs of basic services. This is to cover the costs of necessary infrastructure building and maintenance, which the City cannot afford. It comes at a time too, that service delivery to the most disadvantaged areas is at a bare minimum. What needs to be considered, by both government departments, is whether this is the best time to be spending money unnecessarily? The recent downgrade of the country into junk status will increase taxes, basic living expenses and general debt. Can government really afford to throw money at a project like this? The recent downgrade of the country into junk status has heightened the possibility of increased taxes, basic living expenses, and general public and private debt. Can government really afford to throw money at a project like this?
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What Could The City Be Spending on?

Twitter blew up with residents wondering why government isn’t allocating the money to vital resources. Some of the comments and suggestions thus far are:
  • Replacing hospital gurneys that they stated they couldn’t afford
  • Finishing a fly-over that has taken years to complete
  • Controlling gang violence out of control in Cape Flats
  • Basic service delivery to some of the poorest areas in the Western Cape
  • Assisting the Hout Bay township, Imzamo Yethu, rebuild, after the devastating fire that razed scores of homes to the ground
  • The installation of basic ablutions in high-density areas
The question remains, would Nelson Mandela himself not have wanted that money to go to even one of these suggestions? What are your thoughts?