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Money for R22m flag will be wasted

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Lisa Hnatowicz

The department of sports, arts and culture says in its 2022/23 annual performance plan that it has embarked on a process to conceptualise, design and ultimately install a “national monumental flag”, on a flagpole more than 100m in height.

Such monumental flags are installed by countries to “express their identity and pride”. One could reasonably argue that what SA desperately needs is actual structural reform, economic freedom, and consequent job creation – such would be a true source of pride, as opposed to a flag that will likely cost more than R22m.

Large-scale government projects are likely to present new opportunities for cronyism and waste – and in light of the details provided in the numerous Zondo commission state capture reports, would it really be prudent to pursue multimillion-rand government projects in such a context?

The funds allocated for monumental flags – the budgets of which are likely to increase as costs balloon and unforeseen problems arise – could be much better utilised by artists and sports people themselves. They know best the challenges they face, and through acting independently would be able to adapt and hopefully begin to generate income again after two years of surviving on basically nothing.

Building and maintaining projects such as monumental flags will be mired in tender bureaucracy and waste. The funds should rather be given to private organisations, orchestras, voluntary associations, and individuals. At the same time, scrap Covid-19 crowd restrictions and allow concerts and events to be hosted at 100% capacity – citizens should be empowered to choose which events they are comfortable attending, or not.

These steps would do much more for people in arts and culture who have barely made it through the last two years with next to zero assistance from the government.

Chris Hattingh, Institute of Race Relations

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