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'Useless, fruitless and misguided': SA slams government's plan to install R22m 'monument flag'

12 May 2022 - 11:30
The department of sports, arts and culture plans to spend R22m on installing a flag that is more than 100m in height. Stock image.
The department of sports, arts and culture plans to spend R22m on installing a flag that is more than 100m in height. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/rawpixel

The department of sports, arts and culture's plans to spend R22m on installing a “monumental” flag that is more than 100m in height has been met with mixed reactions online.

The department this week detailed its annual performance plan for 2022/2023. 

It said the government has budgeted R22m to install the flag as part of its national monumental flag project and that the flag would serve as a national landmark and tourist attraction.

The installation of the flag will cost R17m while geotechnical studies will cost another R5m.

“The results of the feasibility study will inform the brief for the SA national monumental flag. R5m is budgeted in 2022/23 for the site-specific geotechnical studies including the environmental impact assessment and other tests and applications that will be required before construction. In 2023/24 R17m is allocated for the installation of the monumental flag,” said the department

According to the department, the flag will be a symbol of “nationhood” and has the potential to unite people as it becomes a symbol of unity and common identity. 

“The flag, as the brand image of the country, needs to be highly recognised by the citizens. Rendering a national flag as a monument of democracy goes a long way in making it highly recognised by the citizens. This has a potential to unite people as it becomes a symbol of unity and common identity. 

“The project is envisaged to contribute towards nation building and social cohesion. During 2022/23, the project will be tracked in the operational plan and the feasibility study conducted will guide the way forward towards installing a monumental flag.”

The DA and the EFF expressed dismay at the department's plan to spend millions of rand on anything other than efforts to rebuild the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic and floods in parts of the country. 

“This is the clearest indication yet that minister Nathi Mthethwa is out of touch with the needs of South Africans,” said the DA.

“This giant flag project is nothing more than a decoration project and will do absolutely nothing for nation building or social cohesion. On the contrary, it is an insult to millions of struggling athletes and artists who have been receiving very little or no support from the department after their lives and livelihoods were destroyed by the Covid-19 lockdown.”

The DA said as Mthethwa has demonstrated that his department has funds to spend, it should divert the funds towards the following:

  1. Support or sponsor local sporting events or theatre productions, particularly those that were cancelled due to lockdowns;
  2. A one-time donation to arts and cultural activities like school choir competitions;
  3. Assist in the restoration of historic museums that are on the verge of closure;
  4. One-time contribution to prize money in numerous sports, such as boxing and ultra-marathons; and
  5. Inject funds to pay artists who perform at music festivals.

The EFF said plans to spend millions on a flag was a clear indication of a department that does not know what to do with its budget. 

“This is a useless, fruitless and misguided waste of money that must be rejected by all logical and rational people,” the party said in a statement

“Once again, the ruling party has a misguided understanding of what is necessary for SA to build social cohesion and inspire pride in the people of this country. A flag will not resolve the deep-seated fractures in our society, which are rooted in the unequal distribution of wealth and abject poverty of African people.

“Our people are unemployed, landless and victims of arrogant and unrepentant racism in the land of their birth.”

On social media, many others slammed the monumental flag plan.

Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions:

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