Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture Nathi Mthethwa has defended the decision to erect a 100m-high monumental flag that will cost R22m.

Mthethwa, delivering his budget in Parliament yesterday, said the flag was an important part of the department’s role to build a cohesive country.

The R22m flag monument has come under public scrutiny with critics saying it is in bad taste given the poverty, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

FF Plus MP Heloïse Denner told Mthethwa that the decision showed how misguided the department’s priorities were, but Mthethwa hit back, saying Denner was trying to trivialise the matter.

He said that if issues relating to flags were not important, AfriForum would not be in court fighting for the apartheid flag.

As previously reported, AfriForum's case was heard by the SCA on Wednesday. It is vying to overturn a 2019 ruling that declared public displays of the apartheid flag were hate speech.

‘Denner wants to trivialise the flag. No, it's the mandate of the department to create among other things monuments and this flag is a monument for democracy in this country and we make no bones about that,’ Mthethwa is quoted as saying in a TimesLIVE report.

He said the national flag was a national symbol and that his department was tasked with the design, registration and promotion of national symbols.

Full TimesLIVE report