#Black Monday: Cabinet slams display of 'symbols of oppression'

Minister says citizens should try to understand the deep 'pains of the past'

#Black Monday: Cabinet slams 'displaying symbols of oppression'

2 November 2017

Cape Town - Cabinet has condemned "certain incidents" that reportedly took place during various #BlackMonday marches around the country, Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Thursday.

Kubayi-Ngubane was speaking about the circulation of images on social media earlier this week during various marches, protesting the rising spate of farm murders.

The images included protesters reportedly waving the old apartheid flag and burning the new South African flag.

Cabinet acknowledged that some of the images may have been old, or "fake news", but the intent in sharing them warranted a response.

"There were images that circulated on social media that reflected a burning of a South African flag," Kubayi-Ngubane told journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing in Parliament.

"We are saying it is not correct. We should have the discussion as part of social cohesion. Even if it happened in 2012 and somebody believed they needed to circulate it now, it does not help us in building a country."

Images displaying symbols of past oppression or destruction of national symbols were dividing the nation and damaging social cohesion, Cabinet said.

Black Monday marchers had every right to protest a legitimate issue, but they also had to ensure it was done responsibly.

"We acknowledge the right of every South African to exercise what is enshrined in the Constitution: their right to protest and freedom of expression.

"But we are asking if it can be done in the most responsible way. There are issues of burning the flag and waving the old flag."

'No talk of banning old flag'

Kubayi said Cabinet had not discussed specific images during its meeting on Wednesday, but rather had addressed the broad themes reported in the media from the scenes at various Black Monday marches.

"Even if an image was circulated, we need to condemn such an image, because somebody might think it's okay to burn a South African flag.

"Blocking of the roads, it's wrong. Having an old apartheid flag, and insulting statements on some of the T-shirts...

"We must be able to say that - while there are issues of concerns that the marchers felt they needed to raise with government, which is correct - the manner that certain individuals conducted themselves and certain things that happened are wrong and remains wrong."

Cabinet had not discussed any suggestions of banning the display or the owning the old flag.

'Try understand pains of the past'

"We've not gone to the extent that we must ban. We understand these symbols will remain as part of our history.

"But if indeed some discussion arises we will have to consider if it is in the best interest of nation building. We continue to appeal, let's behave in the most responsive way for a united South Africa."

Kubayi said citizens should rather try to understand the deep "pains of the past", going forward, as these "incidents" were taking the country backward, not forward.

"If all of us understand the pains of the past, and what it took to get where we are, no one should undermine that.

"We should all work towards harmony in the country and ensure South Africa becomes a non-racial South Africa."