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‘These attacks are valid’: Poet Lebo Mashile calls out Nathi Mthethwa

20 May 2022 - 08:00 By Constance Gaanakgomo
Lebo Mashile said the "attacks" on the minister are valid
Lebo Mashile said the "attacks" on the minister are valid
Image: Instagram/Lebo Mashile

Poet and activist Lebo Mashile has joined a long list of South Africans who have been expressing their disappointment at the department of sports, arts and culture's R22m "monumental" flag project.

The department recently revealed the proposed project, which it said would increase social cohesion, create jobs and attract tourism. Many criticised the price and timing of the "monument", saying the money could be better used elsewhere in the department. Amid a backlash, minister Nathi Mthethwa directed his department to review the project. 

Taking to Twitter, Lebo said criticism of the minister and the department was justified.

"Artists are committing suicide. Artists have lost homes and livelihoods. Artists do not have health care. This pandemic was an opportunity to show the sector  we are valued and supported, and the minister refuses to address us directly after two years. These attacks are valid," tweeted Lebo

Actor and producer Zola Hashatsi said the project should not go ahead and suggested the minister was useless.

“Dear Nathi Mthethwa, I put it to you that if you go ahead with this Ms**ery idea of spending R22m on a monumental flag you will see a movie called Looting: The Legacy in SA, wena Minister of Condolences. You are as useless as the T in 'buffet'.” 

Speaking during the Black Business Council summit in Midrand on Thursday, president Cyril Ramaphosa said he had told the minister to cancel the controversial flag project.

"Mthethwa comes to me and says, ‘President, please tell me when I can call you’. I say, ‘Mthethwa I am in a cabinet committee meeting, we will talk afterwards’.

“ I call him back and he says to me, ‘President this flag thing, which is such a wonderful initiative, it seems our people are not happy with it’, and I say, ‘ Of course they are not happy with it. Cancel this thing,’” said Ramaphosa to the crowd that roared with laughter.

The ministry said the minister had noted the widespread criticism of the project.

“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 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. It also bodes well for one of the pillars of social cohesion, which is an active citizenry."


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