South Africa: Nathi Mthethwa’s (Final?) Monumental Red Flag

One of Mthethwa’s many problems is that he has created a long list of enemies – and his latest misstep is a good opportunity to remind the nation of his lockdown failure.

Over the past few days, members of our society have queued up to pour scorn on the plan by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to spend R22-million on a massive South African flag. Much of the frustration appears to come from the very idea of spending so much money on what appears to be a vanity project when the needs of so many are so pressing.

At the same time, the politics around national flags in general, and perhaps ours in particular, can be unpredictable. National flags can elicit strong emotions. That said, it may be that Mthethwa has created the perfect conditions for his critics who accuse him of a spectacular failure to help struggling South African artists during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.

Mthethwa’s plan emerged last week. He described the flag as a structure that would be 100m high, saying: “We are memorialising our democracy and we are building this monumental flag which will be there forever to inform society about this symbol. It…

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