The controversial R22-million monumental flag project has finally been scrapped from the plans of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.
Addressing a portfolio committee at the National Assembly on Friday, Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the department acknowledges the public outcry pertaining to the project and has resolved to cancel it.
“There’s nothing we haven’t said about this project. We noted the outcry, and we responded. As far as I’m concerned, we have dealt with this matter, and it is finalised,” said Mthethwa.
A petition was commissioned against the department in an attempt to block the project that was largely seen as wasteful expenditure shortly after its announcement.
People on social media protested that the money could be better allocated to fund struggling sporting codes and to feed many artists who suffered a major blow when Covid-19 regulations were introduced in 2020, crippling the entertainment industry.
Even President Cyril Ramaphosa found the venture laughable, saying he told Mthethwa to “cancel this thing”. However, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele maintained that the widely rejected R22-million monumental flag would reinforce unity among South Africans.
Addressing the media on the outcomes of a post-cabinet meeting in Pretoria in May, Gungubele said if people look at the content of the flag, they will find that it is a critical flag that will actually reinforce cohesion in South Africa.
“But the issue of cost is what the minister [of sport, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa] is reviewing, especially in the context of the contesting needs of our country, like access to water, poverty, and access to food,” Gungubele said at the time.
Mthethwa then announced that his department is reconsidering the project and added that it will be reviewed following public discourse.
“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,” said Mthethwa at the time.
Also read: Controversial Flag project to be reviewed