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Cabinet approved R22m flag without considering the cost, says Ramaphosa

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives in Carolina, Mpumalanga.
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives in Carolina, Mpumalanga.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

President Cyril Ramaphosa says while the controversial R22m “monumental” flag project was approved by the cabinet, the government overlooked the cost associated with it.

“Our people have responded to the issue of the cost that it isn’t the wisest thing, at the moment, to go and put up a flag that is going to cost so much money,” said Ramaphosa.

He was speaking during an engagement with the business community in Carolina before the presidential imbizo in Mpumalanga.

Minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa’s department brought the initiative which they “conceptualised” and it was given the green light.

“I said to them yesterday [Thursday] we are a listening government, we listened to our people and having listened to them we decided we are not going to proceed with the flag project because we want to listen to the voice of our people,” said Ramaphosa.

On Thursday evening Ramaphosa told the Black Business Council summit in Johannesburg he received a phone call from Mthethwa, asking him for advice on how to handle the public outrage on the matter.

“So Mthethwa comes to me and he says, 'President, please tell me when I can call you'. So I say, ‘Mthethwa I am in a cabinet committee meeting, we will talk afterwards'. So 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, ‘No, of course they are not happy with it. Cancel this thing',” said Ramaphosa to laughter.

The ministry on Thursday announced that Mthethwa had directed his department to review 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.

“In upholding this 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,” the ministry said.


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