The statue of former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: TWITTER/@ZWELITOM
The statue of former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: TWITTER/@ZWELITOM

Durban mayor Zandile Gumede’s love of statues has outraged eThekwini ratepayers.

There have been complaints that eight statues placed along the M4 in Durban North to celebrate the ANC’s 107th birthday bear little resemblance to the party’s past leaders. And now the mayor plans to spend R20m on two giant statues by the same artist of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. 

The eight statues placed along the M4 include ANC leaders and stalwarts Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Albertina Sisulu.

Mbeki’s statue has caught the attention of many social media users who have wondered who the man standing between Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma is, saying the statue does not resemble the former president.

On Monday eThekwini municipality’s head of parks and recreations, Themba Ngcobo, told journalists that a tender of R20m has been issued to Lungelo Gumede, a young Durban-based artist to produce two further statues that will be unveiled between July and September 2019. He also produced the eight statues placed along the M4.

Ngcobo accused those who were critical of either the statues or their cost of being unreformed apartheid apologists who did not appreciate the struggle to free SA from the yoke of the racist regime or were benefiting from the continued disunity of black people.

The DA’s leader in KwaZulu-Natal, Zwakele Mncwango, told Business Day that his party is dismayed at the high price of the project in the face of economic difficulties and inadequate service delivery.

“We are not opposed to the preserving of our history for future generations. However, we must prioritise budgeting and look at the challenges we face today. It is an insult to tell a person who does not have a house, water, electricity or who lacks other basic services or a person who is unemployed that you used R20m for statues,” he said.

The governing ANC was committing the same mistake as the apartheid rulers by recognising and building statues only of its own leaders, he said.