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Artists and ordinary South Africans give Minister Nathi Mthethwa lashing over monument

Minister Nathi Mthethwa get backlash of flag project.Image: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Minister Nathi Mthethwa get backlash of flag project.Image: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 18, 2022

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Despite the outcry by citizens, the Sports, Arts and Culture is going ahead with their R22 million monumental flag project.

Ordinary South African citizens and artists gave Minister Nathi Mthethwa a backlash over the project, but defended it saying the value is worth it.

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“This is a 120m tall flag which is 10m by 15m, during the day it will be seen and at night it will also be seen because it is going to be lit because the education has to be continues both during the day and night. The massive nature of the flag is bringing in the steel industry. The value will outlive us and it is important,” Mthethwa said.

The department confirmed that it was working on a project to install a massive flag and flagpole to be known as the South African National Monumental Flag.

The ministry said the monumental flag will be a huge structure hosted at Freedom Park Heritage Site and Museum.

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The department’s spokesperson, Masechaba Khumalo said the project was approved by parliament.

“The SA National Monumental Flag project was approved by Cabinet in the last financial year of 2021/2022. This project is now in the pre-construction phase. It is anticipated that this project will be completed at the end of the 2023/24 financial year,” Khumalo said.

She said this project is a component of a broader campaign, #I am The Flag” which utilises national symbols to advance a common national identity.

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“This project reminds South Africans that they share a common identity through the national flag and other national symbols. The realisation of shared identity and values lead to nation building and the advancement of social cohesion. A theme of unity in diversity cuts across all national symbols. The national flag, which is symbolic to our democratic dispensation, will thus, be rendered a national brand as well as a monument,” Khumalo said

She said monumental or tall flags can be found in some countries in the world, adding that this is not a unique South African concept.

African futurist Mohau Pheko in an interview with a broadcaster said South Africans have every right to be outraged by this kind of spending.

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She said the nature of the state has many different personalities, at one level it’s fragile, at another level it’s weak, at another level it’s powerful, at another level it is just not delivering any services at all.

“But it is powerful when it comes to funding and bailing out South African Airways to the tune of R10.5 billion, but weak and fragile when it comes to development, policing, housing, water etc.

“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, mismanagement, and state capture, it seems like there’s a roller coaster of political and economical collapse in the country,” said Pheko.

“We have a state that is able to manage and find funds for its elite projects and this R22 million, is a case in point that this is money that could be spent to beef up other more needy sectors in the country,” she said.

Cope called on Ramaphosa to immediately intervene and stop this "scandalous flag project''.

"Millions of people are going to bed on an empty stomach. Nobody can justify this disgraceful abuse of power. The priorities of this government are laughable and senseless," Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on Mthethwa to put the money “he planned to use on his shameful flag-project” to good use, and not insult the collective intelligence.

“The money can be used to develop local sports, invest in women’s football,: EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said.

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