‘It’s a day that must be spat on’: Phumzile Van Damme on 60th anniversary of ‘apartheid republic’

01 June 2021 - 12:00
Phumzile Van Damme says commemorating the lives lost due to apartheid is important. File photo.
Phumzile Van Damme says commemorating the lives lost due to apartheid is important. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Former DA MP Phumzile Van Damme says the anniversary of SA becoming an “apartheid republic” must be a day that is spat on.

May 31 marked the 60th year since the country became a republic following a referendum only open to white voters.

It was an anniversary President Cyril Ramaphosa said was a painful reminder of the country’s racist past.

Reflecting in his weekly letter to the nation, Ramaphosa said the reality of SA was that “we were not a united people”, despite what former prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd declared during the apartheid era.

“We were inhabitants of a country where one’s rights, prospects and life expectancy was determined by one’s race. For two decades, the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act of 1961 was the legal impetus for the repression of nearly 90% of the South African population. It provided legal cover for discrimination, dispossession and exploitation.

“The unhappy anniversary takes place in the same month SA celebrates the 25th anniversary of the adoption by the Constitutional Assembly of the new democratic constitution, which became the birth certificate of a real united nation,” said the president.

Weighing in on Ramaphosa’s remarks, Van Damme said the 60th anniversary does not deserve commemoration.

“I get that we must remember the past but it is a day that must be spat on,” she said.

“Apartheid and giving any credence to the day Verwoerd declared it makes my skin crawl.”

Van Damme said the commemoration should be for the lives lost due to apartheid.

“Commemoration of the days of lives lost due to apartheid is important. It is to give respect, honour and mourn. Verwoerd’s apartheid republic and the 60 years deserve no commemoration,” she said.


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