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Nathi Mthethwa puts R22 million monumental flag project on hold amid public outcry

The South African flag. File Picture

The South African flag. File Picture

Published May 19, 2022

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Pretoria – Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has directed that the decision to erect a gigantic “monumental flag”, which would cost the taxpayers R22 million, be reviewed.

“Over the past few days, the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture has followed and taken note of public discourse that has unfolded in respect of the envisaged Monumental Flag,” the department said in a statement released this morning following a public outcry on the expenditure.

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“In upholding these ethos and the inalienable rights of citizens to be heard, the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture has directed his department to review the process related to the Monumental Flag in its totality.”

Earlier this week, Mthethwa defended the decision on different platforms, insisting that the planned R22 million project was for raising the foundational principles of the country’s democracy as enshrined in the Constitution.

Delivering his opening remarks in Parliament, Mthethwa said the monumental flag was one such monument to democracy.

“We are memorialising our democracy, and we are building this monumental flag, which will be there forever to inform society about this symbol,” he said.

“It is quite a clear marker of a break with the colonialism and apartheid. It epitomises the democratic values and other values,” he said.

Mthethwa made the statement when he led the department to brief the sport, arts and culture portfolio committee on the flag following the tabling of the budget last week.

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The planned 100-metre high flag, which will be constructed at the Freedom Park in Pretoria, sparked outrage in some quarters, with some saying millions were spent on vanity projects amid other pressing matters in the country.

Mthethwa said his department's mandate was to transform the heritage landscape, among other things, by building museums and monuments and changing apartheid names of places and cities and any other thing that dominated the public space.

He noted that the current public space in South Africa was still skewed against the majority.

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On Thursday, his department said the diversity of voices around this important heritage project “are a welcome celebration of our country’s vibrant constitutional democracy and the freedoms that must be upheld beyond posterity”.

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