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Planned flagpole of R22 million demonstrates how misguided department’s priorities are

(Parliamentary Budget Vote Debate: Department of Sport, Arts and Culture)

When a crippled national government department plans to use its funds to erect a 100m-tall monumental flag at a cost of R22 million, it demonstrates how misguided its priorities are.

It also demonstrates why the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture is failing to achieve its primary objective of nation building, and why it is instead excluding, marginalising, discriminating, derogating, belittling and misappropriating.

On paper the department's objectives for the 2022/23 financial year seem honourable: Nation building through sports, and developing the arts among the previously disadvantaged by, among other things, erecting new theatres.

The irony of the matter, though, is that existing facilities, like the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS), are falling into disrepair.

The same goes for sport, where the plan is to boost professional sports by developing talent on grass-roots level in all communities through the optimal utilisation of resources.

Covid-19 has, however, revealed time and again who the ones are that benefit from financial resources in particular; while Minister Nathi Mthethwa is fanning the flames of division by insinuating that the Afrikaner heritage in its entirety is evil.

Promoting national symbols and heritage sites to encourage social cohesion and nation building is also on the department's agenda.

And it seems that the bar is set quite high with this objective. As high as 100m, to be exact. At an estimated cost of R22 million. That is what the planned national monumental flag will cost taxpayers.

In the past, the FF Plus repeatedly referred to the department's misguided priorities. This is surely the ultimate example of that.

How this flag is going to inspire pride and nation building among unemployed, starving and disheartened people is a mystery.

In addition, it is a slap in the face of thousands of artists who were dealt a severe blow by the pandemic and are caught in a desperate fight for survival.

Only the crumbs of the R300 million relief package, earmarked for assisting artists during that time, reached them. The rest ended up in the pockets of corrupt cadres. What a shame.

Furthermore, the stick of self-righteous racism judgement with which prominent white athletes are so eagerly beaten these days is seemingly always at hand, without thorough and fair investigations being conducted first.

The emotional and financial damage caused by such unprovable accusations is immeasurable; it can also not be measured against the department's own objectives of nation building and social cohesion.

Just like the national government, this department is an utter failure. South Africa and its people deserve better.

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