Backlash forces Mthethwa to review R22m flag project

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Following Mthethwa’s televised interview with political commentator JJ Tabane this week, the department came under increasing fire, with various political parties, artists and sports figures calling the decision “premature” and “tone-deaf”. Photo: Archive
Following Mthethwa’s televised interview with political commentator JJ Tabane this week, the department came under increasing fire, with various political parties, artists and sports figures calling the decision “premature” and “tone-deaf”. Photo: Archive

NEWS


Sports, arts and culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, has announced that his department will review the decision to erect a R22 million monumental flag after a major public backlash this week.

In a statement released on Thursday, the department said the minister noted the public discourse that unfolded after the project was announced, and directed his department to review the process in its totality.

The diversity of voices around this important heritage project is 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.

The department announced the project when it detailed its annual performance plan for the 2022/23 year in the National Assembly last week.

The 100m-tall flag was set to be erected at Freedom Park in Pretoria. In the plan, the department said R5 million would be set aside for “site-specific geotechnical studies, including the environmental impact assessment and other tests, and applications that would be required prior to construction”.

READ: EXPLAINER | R22 million to build a 100-metre glow-in-the-dark SA flag pole: What you need to know

Following Mthethwa’s televised interview with political commentator JJ Tabane this week, the department came under increasing fire, with various political parties, artists and sports figures calling the decision “premature” and “tone-deaf”.

“In striving to transform the cultural and heritage landscape of our democratic society, the department of sports, arts and culture will continue to be driven by the pursuit of the socioeconomic dividend for the country, as well as the historical, symbolic, spiritual and aesthetic values and identity of a democratic South Africa and its people. As we pursue this path, it is hoped that discourse will reflect deeper around these factors,” the statement read.

Media personality Bonang Matheba was at the forefront of the mounting calls for Mthethwa to be fired.

“Fire this man, please,” the star wrote in a social media post.

“You’re useless and we all hate you,” she added in another post.

Legendary sportscaster Robert Marawa also spoke out against the flag.

READ: Melanie Verwoerd | R22m for a flag? Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?

Former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said: “This R22 million flag is actually disrespectful to South Africans! It has an undertone that says ‘you guys are stupid and we’ll continue looting in front of you and you won’t do anything about it’ ... it’s just the ANC showing it will never ever care.”


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