President Cyril Ramaphosa explained his government’s decision to build a new monumental national flag project, which is currently under consideration.
Originally detailed in May, the giant flag has come under criticism after it was emerged that the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture had budgeted R22 million for the project.
In its annual performance plan for 2022/2023, the department said it had already embarked on a process of conceptualizing, designing and ultimately installing a monumental national flag, with a mast over 100 meters high.
Following public reaction, the project was put on hold, with the ministry promising a full review of the plan.
However, during a parliamentary question-and-answer session this week, President Ramaphosa justified the concept, saying such projects are important for the unity of the country.
“The promotion of national symbols and the construction of monuments are important for building a common identity and advancing national unity,” he said.
“The flag project, like all departmental programs, is informed by the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF), which is itself based on the electoral mandate of this administration. These programs are reflected in departmental budget votes, which are debated at length in parliament.
Ramaphosa acknowledged public criticism of the project, particularly concerns over its cost, and said the plan was under review.
“Given the current fiscal pressures and public concern, the Minister for Sport, Arts and Culture has asked his ministry to review the flag project.
“The government will continue to work to ensure that its programs and associated spending are informed by MTSF priorities and the broader interests of the country.”
The national flag of South Africa was designed by a former state herald, Fred Brownell, and was first used on April 27, 1994.
The design and colors are a summary of the main elements of the country’s flag history. Individual colors or combinations of colors represent different meanings to different people and therefore no universal symbolism should be attached to any one of the colors, the government said.
The government subsequently developed a set of specific instructions regarding the use of the national flag and how it should be flown.
When the flag is displayed vertically against a wall, the red stripe should be to the left of the viewer with the winch or cord seam at the top.
When displayed horizontally, the winch should be to the left of the viewer and the red stripe at the top. When the flag is displayed beside or behind the speaker during a meeting, it should be placed to the right of the speaker. When placed elsewhere in the venue, it should be to the right of the audience.
Read: South Africa is making a big push to localize – and has stopped using some international products: Ramaphosa