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South Africa to spend R22 million on 100-m tall national flag

South Africa to spend R22 million on 100-m tall national flag

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture says it will spend R22 million on its National Monumental Flag Project.

South Africa’s national flag was designed by a former state herald, Fred Brownell, and was first used on 27 April 1994.

WHY WILL SA SPEND R22 MILLION ON A FLAG?

According to the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, a feasibility study on the development of the South African monumental flag was undertaken in 2020/2021. The results of the feasibility study will inform the brief for the South African national monumental flag.

“R5 million 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 prior to construction. In 2023/24 R17 million is allocated for the installation of the monumental flag,” the department said.

The department also said it noted that the flag is the symbol of ‘nationhood’ and the ‘common identity’ of the people of South Africa.

“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 the 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.”

Department of Sport, Arts and Culture

Th feasibility study was launched on 27 April 2021 and approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February 2022. Soon after the approval the department justified the project by saying “Monumental flags are installed by countries to express their identity and pride. Once constructed, it will become a national landmark (and) a tourist attraction site that will serve to display the country’s brand image.”

A flag shouldn’t cost the taxpayer R22 million – but the ANC begs to differ

Instead of erecting a 100m flag-pole that will cost the South African taxpayer R22 million as a “nation building” effort, government could better spend the money on reviving some of the sectors worst affected by the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This according to the Democratic Alliance (DA), who said on Wednesday that the project – spearheaded by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture – is demonstrative of just how out of touch government is with the needs of its people.

PROJECT MOTIVATED BY ‘NATION-BUILDING’

Minister Nathi Mthethwa outlined the project on Tuesday, saying that the “National Monumental flag” will amplify social cohesion and encourage unity amongst the people of South Africa.

“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 the potential to unite people as it becomes a symbol of unity and common identity,” he said.

“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.”

Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sports, Art and Culture

Many have balked at the notion that R22 million could be spent on anything other than efforts to rebuild an economy decimated during the pandemic though, and the DA charged that Mthethwa is woefully off the mark.

“This is the clearest indication yet that Minister Nathi Mthethwa is out of touch with the needs of South Africans,” said Tsepo Mhlongo the DA’s Shadow Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture.

DA CONDEMNS FLAG PROJECT

Mhlongo said that instead of frivolously allocating such a large sum to the flag project, government could spend it on uplifting the arts sector, and providing much-needed relief to the country’s athletes.

“If Minister Mthethwa is serious about social cohesion and nation building, he must recognise that the socio -economic challenges that South Africa faces will require far more than a few decorations to address,” she said in a statement.

She added that “since Minister Mthethwa has demonstrated that his department has funds to spend”, the following avenues would be more suitably explored:

  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 in music festivals.

“The Minister and his department are administering the wrong antidote because they misdiagnosed the problem. Focusing on the problems that ordinary South Africans experience has a better chance of fostering social cohesion than flying flags. South Africans are already proud of their flag, but the actions of out-of-touch Ministers leave a lot to be desired,” she concluded.

‘USELESS, FRUITLESS AND MISGUIDED’

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) joined the hoards of people opposed to the expenditure, saying that the ANC have yet again failed to read the room.

“This is a useless fruitless and misguided waste of money that must be rejected by all logical and rational people,” the EFF said in a statement. “Our people are landless, unemployed and victims of arrogant and unrepentant racism in the land of their birth.”

EFF


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