Statement by President Nelson Mandela on portraits and works of art in Parliament

30 January 1996

I have received a number of queries from some concerned citizens about the removal of portraits and other works of art in Parliament.

I have been informed by the leadership in the national legislature that the decision to do so was taken after extensive deliberations within Parliament, and it was agreed to by all the political parties. The new democratic Parliament should reflect the image of an inclusive South Africa, in all its diversity. This is an important component of nation-building and reconciliation.

All parties are agreed that the existing works are a part of South Africa's history and will remain the property of parliament. The Art Against Apartheid Collection, which has been donated to the people of South Africa and accepted by the Government of National Unity, will be exhibited in Parliament for a period of six months. In the meantime, the existing works will be cleaned and restored by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.

I fully support the initiative by Parliament to launch, in this period, a national debate on what images should be conveyed through the walls and precincts of Parliament. Various options will be examined, including the display of some of the current works along with new ones. The final decision will be informed by the views of the public on this matter.

I wish to commend Parliament for dealing with this sensitive matter in a non-partisan manner.

Issued by: Office of The President

Source: South African Government Information Website