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Nathi Mthethwa’s R22m monumental flag under review

The plan by the ministry of sport, arts and culture to spend R22m on a 'monumental' flag is under review.
The plan by the ministry of sport, arts and culture to spend R22m on a 'monumental' flag is under review.
Image: THE HERALD/MIKE HOLMES

Minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa has directed his department to review the process related to the R22m flag monument in its totality.

In a statement released on Thursday morning, just over a day after Mthethwa went to parliament to defend the project, saying SA was memorialising its democracy, adding that the monument flag would teach people about the country's democracy and how it got there.

His department also presented a feasibility study that cost the department nearly R2m.

It's meant to be build at the Freedom Park in Pretoria.

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.

“In upholding these ethos and the inalienable rights of citizens to be heard, the minister of sport, arts and culture has directed his department to review the process related to the monumental flag in its totality.”

There has been public outcry with political parties and creative arts industry saying the department's priorities were wrong, especially with how they struggled during hard lockdown.

By 9am on Thursday, a petition titled Stop Purchase of R22m South African Flag on change.org had been signed by nearly 27,000 people.

There have been growing calls for Mthethwa to be recalled.

“The department of sport, arts and culture is entrusted with the mandate to transform South Africa’s heritage landscape by building monuments, memorials, museums, changing colonial and apartheid names as well as the overarching injunction heal the divisions of the past.

“It does so informed by national aspirations and international best practice which appreciates that heritage is among the bedrock of value systems that must drive national pride, social cohesiveness and unity.

“The World Heritage Convention makes the point that 'cultural and natural heritage is not only an irreplaceable source of identity and inspiration, but also a key driving force for sustainable development'.

“In striving to transform the cultural and heritage landscape of our democratic society, the department of sport, arts and culture will continue to be driven by the pursuit of the socio-economic 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.

DA MP Tsepo Mhlongo welcomed the decision to review the whole process.

“Viva Batho Pele [People First] principles, viva! We need the same pressure in all issues in SA. We still question the R1.7m which has already been used. He must account.”

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