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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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#PoeticLicence: We have a government that says one thing and does exactly the other

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published May 13, 2022

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Johannesburg - This is why we can’t have nice things, like working hospitals and trains, roads without potholes and shiny infrastructure, illuminating robots and better quality education, a reliable electricity supply or jobs. Jobs would be nice.

Pride and patriotism for the generality of the citizens come at higher stakes than a 100m-tall “monumental” flag.

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The South African government has its head too high in the clouds with this vanity project of spending R22 million to erect a giant flagpole. The impracticality is dumbfounding.

We already have an oversized flag in Gqeberha. Invite tourists to visit and admire that one. There is no need to spend all that money on another.

The existing enormous Donkin Reserve flagpole stands at 68m. Is R22 million worth an extra 32m?

A project like this has left a bitter taste in the mouths of citizens.

The Mandela monument in Galeshewe took Sol Plaatje local municipality three years to complete by 2018. The sad contraption is made up of little more than a three-legged pole with a head-and-shoulder cut-out of former president Nelson Mandela and is said to have cost the government a staggering R10m.

The consensus on the proposed new “monumental” flag is that a substandard stand will be erected, slapped with an epic-size piece of cloth in South African colours, and the money will be eaten by vultures.

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Painting within the lines, youth sports development and arts initiatives could have benefited from this budget by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

A culture of corruption in our country is intrinsically linked to overselling and underperforming.

We have a government that says one thing and does exactly the other.

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Another underlying factor is an inferiority complex under way and out of control.

Perhaps a pissing contest of sorts – “the tallest ‘whatever’ in the continent”.

Too often the government turns a blind eye to what it initially set its sights on.

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Pinpointing a compass needle right on the mega flag flags it as fruitless and wasteful. Just utterly ridiculous taking into account that we can’t even keep the lights on.

We are hunter-gatherers. Dependent primarily on wild foods, herding white elephants of Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations without flames. Generation units that generate more frustration for people than electricity in their houses.

Do we want a flashy flagpole as high as our unemployment rate that bad?

Good to know that we are joining the leagues of countries that have erected long national flagpoles. But then what? Are we fulfilled with the auspicious displays by hoisting the massive flag on specially erected poles of significant length?

The department said the flagpole will become a national landmark that will serve to display the country’s brand image.

I guess everyone is entitled to the kind of general impression they give to the world.

This is why we can’t have nice things, like working hospitals and trains, roads without potholes and shiny infrastructure, illuminating robots and better quality education, a reliable electricity supply or jobs. Jobs would be nice.

The Saturday Star

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