Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa’s controversial R22m flag project has been cancelled by his boss, President Cyril Ramaphosa
The Minister had said that his ministry wanted to build a “monumental” flag, which would be a monument to SA’s democracy and constitution and which would be used as a tourist attraction. But the president has responded to the public outcry and comments that it was a vanity project, which followed, and said it must be scrapped.
Ramaphosa said that Mthethwa phoned him to seek counsel after the backlash over the initiative which many South Africans rejected. Mthethwa had defended the move but in a slight about-turn on Thursday, announcing that it was to be reviewed.
The president then told delegates at a Black Business Council summit on Thursday night that he decided that the initiative must be scrapped. Mthethwa had lauded the project saying the government was “memorialising our democracy and we are building this monumental flag, which will be there forever to inform society about this symbol”.
“It is quite a clear marker of a break with the colonialism and apartheid. It epitomises the democratic values and other values,” he said.
He made the statement when he led the department to brief the sport, arts and culture portfolio committee on the flag, after the department’s budget was tabled last week.
But he was met with severe criticism as people on social media, in parliament and elsewhere said not only was the flag project as symbol of how out of touch government is with its citizens but also that its was a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money.
The department has now announced that the project is on hold as it reconsiders its merits.
The flag was set to stand 100m high and located at Freedom Park in Pretoria and Mthethwa said it would rival a similar flag in Saudi Arabia.