Monumental Flag Project; SA Rugby Union update; with Ministry

Sports, Arts and Culture

17 May 2022
Chairperson: Ms. B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video

In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee met with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) on the CEO case and for a Department briefing on the SA Monumental Flag Project.

SARU updated the Committee on developments in the CEO matter but could not provide detailed information on the legal opinion at this stage. They will report back to the Committee as soon as they can conclude an outcome on the matter. SARU stated that it has nothing to hide but acting with caution and within legal privilege.

Members expressed concern about the impact the CEO matter is having on the image of South African sport and SARU’s reputation. The Committee requested that SARU exercise firm leadership and accelerate the investigation process.

The Minister and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) briefed the Committee on the Monumental Flag Project that is to be constructed in Pretoria. The intended purpose of the monument was in line with the Department mandate to promote and transform the cultural and heritage landscape of a democratic South Africa and that it holds intangible heritage value. The presentation outlined the Monumental Flag concept, benefits, feasibility study phases and outcomes, and technicalities.

Committee Members supported the underlying principle to contribute towards social cohesion and nation building but expressed concern about the expenditure for it.

Meeting report

Chairperson opening remarks
The Chairperson noted the Deputy Minister would join the meeting late due to another meeting commitment and that the Minister would need to be excused from the meeting at 12h30.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) expressed concern that the meeting document was received only the day before. One cannot do adequate oversight when documents are sent late. The rule states that documents should be sent 72 hours before a committee meeting. Explanations are needed when documents are sent late.

Mr M Zondi (ANC) shared the concern but it does not stop them from adopting the meeting agenda.

Mr J Mamabolo (ANC) supported the adoption of the agenda and shared Mr Mhlongo’s concerns.

The Chairperson said the concerns of Mr Mhlongo are the concerns of the committee. She noted the delayed briefing documents and this will be addressed in a formal meeting.

The Chairperson invited SARU President, Mr Mark Alexander, to speak.

SA Rugby Union President introduction
SARU President, Mr Mark Alexander, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to respond to the questions from the last session. He noted the SARU Deputy President would be joining late as he had COVID. Mr Alexander apologised for the late delivery of the presentation and the timeline document as he was overseas and was sick with COVID. He expressed regret and said he did not want to anger the Committee in any way.

Following the 16 March 2022 meeting on the CEO matter, SARU appointed a specialist legal team to review the way forward in dealing with matter. The matter has been discussed in the media but, on a cautionary note, the legal process is still underway.

In procuring a detailed and comprehensive legal opinion, some matters arose recently as shown in the timeline document. The SARU structures, particularly the executive, have definitive duties requiring it to follow due process in consideration and deliberation. The SARU Executive Committee of SARU (Exco) cannot ignore these duties. SARU cannot be deemed above the law and act outside the confines of this legal process.

Due to the caution of exposing the organization in the public domain and potential claims for playing out the matter in the media or publicly, means providing the legal process freedom to see the matter through to its natural conclusion. They need to protect the integrity and the future of the organization and follow legal process otherwise it may open itself to unnecessary claims. He was not presenting the actual legal documents in the public domain but SARU had delivered a full copy to the Office of the Minister. The legal process has not been completed and they could not expose the organization in any form.

He would take the Committee through the timeline and quote the legal comments made, but not the final comments. The presentation would consist of highlights of the report sent to the Committee. The timeline document is a series of events since the CEO was employed by SARU in 2010. It demonstrates that every decision made by the executive was in line with good corporate governance – up until April, things changed - different decisions had to be made.

SA Rugby Union (SARU) Update
Mr Alexander outlined the presentation content (see document for detail):
• CEO’s position
• Governance structures
• Safeguarding policy
• International fixture programme
• Women’s rugby and professionalism

SARU CFO, Mr Abubaker Saban, unpacked legal expenses without compromising any legal positions on this case. He could confirm R38m on legal expenditure between 2013 – 2021. He also confirmed that R943 000 was spent on legal consulting on the CEO matter. This was to safeguard SARU and to protect the board – it was not money spent on the CEO case itself. This was to provide the board with legal advice

Mr Christo Ferreira, SARU Manager of Legal Affairs, outlined the detailed timeline of the case of suspended Western Province Rugby Football Union president, Mr Zelt Marais. The preliminary hearing was arranged on the Mr Marais case. Written arguments had to be provided by 13 May 2022. The main court dates are set for 20, 21 and 23 May 2022.

Also noted was the implementation of Section 29 of the SARU Constitution to place the WPRFU under administration. Mr Alexander said at the time WPRFU was not able to pay staff salaries because all their properties were encumbered in several deals that were made. The first deal they made with Investec. They used the money and decided it was not good enough and tried to renegotiate the deal. The same thing happened with the second deal they made. SARU had to implement Section 29 to stop the mayhem and so that the organization could receive funding. SARU had to provide funding in the interim to unlock the properties encumbered in these deals.

Discussion
Mr T Mhlongo (DA) appreciated the presentation and wanted to note the outstanding work done by SARU on transformation. He welcomed the way the case of Mr Zelt Marais is being dealt with. He supports SA Rugby, but he has a duty to do oversight – he asked Mr Alexander what he is hiding about the "legal opinion" matters. Why is the matter a sensitive issue? He asked SARU for the legal opinion on the CEO matter in the last meeting and did not receive an answer. The same goes for this meeting - why is no information provided? As a Member of Parliament, he would like to demand the legal opinion. It is an opinion and not a final one. The Committee cannot do oversight without knowledge of the legal opinion. He asked Mr Alexander for an update on the outcome of yesterday’s meeting. Who are the HR specialists that have been appointed? What are the roles of these independent HR specialists? What have you mandated them to do? He thanked SARU for providing information on the legal fees. The CEO is doing fundamental work, but the issue at hand is a matter of principle. What is the status? If you believe in good governance, what is the legal opinion? What is the status of case 6672022? The Committee needs to be privy to this information. The Committee has a duty to provide accountability. What is your view on the behaviour of Elton Jantjies?

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) welcomed the presentation. He believes SARU had delayed communication on the updated report and this is unacceptable. It is disrespectful to the Committee and its Department. It is clear that SARU was not prepared to send the information on the legal matter, besides the empty overview sent yesterday. Why should SARU be wasting money on legal advice and consultation, when the most important reason for SARU’s existence is the sport itself? How is SARU going to work progressively towards shaping the formerly white owned SARU to full transformation? How are they going to move forward? How are they going to ensure that for the protection of the sport and for respect to the Committee and South Africa, this will not happen again in the future? Are the black faces under independent membership having any power in shaping transformation? If they are, how is this showing? How is SARU’s policy of recruiting young black rugby players from Model C schools? Has this changed? What measures has the board embarked on to truly reshape SARU?

Ms R Adams (ANC) welcomed the long overdue presentation. What was the delay in receiving a full report from SARU about the CEO legal fees against Stellenbosch University? Is it true that CEO Jurie Roux, who finds himself on the wrong side of an accounting scandal, must pay R37 million to Stellenbosch University? Can SARU provide information on this? Is it true that Mr Roux has been accused of funnelling money from the Stellenbosch University electronic accounting system to illegally channel millions to its rugby club?

Mr D Joseph (DA) thanked SARU for the presentation. While the SARU board has asked for freedom to allow for the investigation to unfold, it had now been going on for quite a long time. In terms of good governance principles as SARU presented in its report, is Mr Roux still a good citizen in light of the court ruling against him? Is he a risk to SARU or any other organization in SA? Were the matters about Mr Zelt Marais and the CEO raised at the AGM? It is of national importance - we need a follow up meeting about what is happening with WP.

We need to know the roles and responsibilities of the administrator, the deal with Cape Town, and our future with these provinces in question which are not in good standing with SARU. Is it interesting to note the issue that previous SARU president, Mr Hoskins has raised – should Exco consider suspending the CEO? While it is a democratic process, it is important to know that someone has raised the issue of the suspension of Mr Jurie Roux. What are the HR independent experts busy implementing? Has SARU taken a decision for confirmation? What is the legal opinion? Does it include suspension, or will it be an out of court settlement? Is there an amount attached to this? When will Parliament and the Committee know what has been fully implemented? We appreciate the transparency on the legal costs. The time and money spent on this case is unnecessary. If we can have the details of the legal cost, why can we not have the details of the legal opinion? It is very disappointing that we do not have a position from SARU. When will we get the final report?

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) congratulated SARU on its good governance structure which can be considered world class. Was there an audit qualification in Mr Roux’s 11 years as CEO or audit findings against him? Does Mr Roux have any access to SARU funds? Are there any stakeholders who do not want to do business with SARU because Mr Roux is the CEO? How much money has SARU raised since the appeal arbitration ruling in December 2021? It is important to know in order to determine the business confidence in Mr Roux as the CEO. What has Mr Roux done towards transformation? Was the money allocated to SARU from SASCOC used to pay legal fees? If it was not used, could you provide a breakdown for what it was used? Mr Roux was appointed in 2010 and at the time no allegations were made – it is surprising that only after Mr Roux left the university that legal action was taken. Perhaps we should have invited the university to reflect on why it allowed money to be moved around within its financial frameworks. How many audits later did they find it problematic? It seems to me that the university’s processes are also flawed. What is really concerning, is that media reports refer to “stolen money” but there is no evidence or final outcome, yet Roux used the money for his own advancement. Has SARU reported the matter to the Minister and kept him in the loop?

Mr J Mamabolo (ANC) welcomed the presentation and congratulated the president. Is Limpopo Province voting? Do you have other international duties for 2023 in preparation for the World Cup? We do not want to take a team to the World Cup that is not well prepared. You are doing well on women representation. Are you also progressing on grassroots development, especially in rural and township areas? It would be nice to see rugby played in Polokwane and other areas. Is there a programme to develop rugby in these areas? To help young boys off the streets and off drugs and become rugby players?

Mr M Zondi (ANC) congratulated the new leadership. The legal costs of R7 million in one financial year is concerning. He hopes the new leadership will try to avoid further escalation of legal costs in the next financial year. He congratulated SARU on the audit findings that conclude there were no fraudulent entries. He expects no fraudulent business in the upcoming financial years. He would like the Minister to account for meetings on the specific matter of board appointments. When can we expect a decision from the SARU board, based on different opinions on the CEO case?

The Chairperson invited Ms Malomane to speak.

Mr Mhlongo interjected – he wanted to clarify that the Minister did not appoint the board.

The Chairperson requested that Mr Mhlongo wait his turn to speak on the platform and not interject while another Member is trying to speak.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) asked to continue with her comments. Does the university case against Mr Roux cause any reputational damage to SARU? What is the timeframe for the appointed HR specialists to deliver the outcome on the CEO matter? How will SARU strengthen its vetting process? How will it develop a system to respond in a timely manner to challenges of this nature in future? How is SARU assisting Limpopo to have a registered union, since they do not have a voting status? How will SARU increase sponsorship for women’s rugby? What is the progress on women representation?

SARU response
Mr Alexander replied that SARU has nothing to hide. They are only being cautious. They have handed all documents, supporting documents and full details on the legal matter to the Minister's office. They are only protecting themselves within legal privilege. While the investigation is incomplete, they do not want to mention anything that could be held against them in a court of law. They are not yet at the stage to implement a legal opinion, and things could change during this process. They have hired a specialist advocate in labour law to guide them through process. They will be meeting with him for the first time the next day.

They do not have an update on the matter of Mr Jantjies. Mr Jantjies is currently employed by a Japanese club and all communication is going via the Japanese club. They do not have first-hand information and are relying on information given through the press.

In response to the legal costs – these were always checked against their fiduciary duty and whether or not they flouted any corporate governance regulations. Before the CEO joined SARU, the organization was 70% on the wrong side of transformation, and 30% on the right side - this is now reversed. The SARU franchise speaks for itself – the bulk of the franchise represents the demographics and exceeds it in most cases.

SARU has kept the Minister updated as things unfolded since last year. They are not delaying the report. They are only protecting it temporarily from the public domain in line with legal privilege. He is not equipped to answer questions about Mr Roux and the university matter.

The timeline document shows no outcome. They were not allowed to take any action and deal with the matter accordingly as there was no evidence against Mr Roux during that time. What transpired in April changed things and that is why they have acted. The timeline shows a lot of legal exchange and activity taking place over March, April and May 2022 to get to the point where they are now. They concede that all their structures lend themselves to good corporate governance. All statutory committees are run by independent people.

Western Province could not pay salaries and could not raise money to pay their staff. That is why SARU took over, if they did not, they would be faced with another liquidation. This raises another concern – if WP cannot participate in international competitions SARU will be sued by international broadcasters and by the competition itself. They only stepped in because WP was on its knees. We allowed WP to operate as independently as possible.

SARU has had no qualified audits for the last twelve years. The CFO is the person in the organisation who has access to funds, not the CEO. The funds are also controlled by the finance committee. There are also authorisation levels, and checks and balances around that. No stakeholders can withdraw money from SARU. There was no leakage of funds at all.

As with the Minister, SARU has kept their sponsors and stakeholders kept updated at all times. SARU does not receive money from SASCOC. They do receive money from government which is used for women’s rugby and wheelchair rugby. The Minister and the previous Minister were kept in the loop about all developments.

Limpopo is a development union and cannot stand on its own financially. They are managed and controlled by the Bulls. They have a 4-year period to establish themselves without the Bulls support and put a team into the competition. They are currently classified as a development union.

On the 2023 World Cup preparations, SARU has lots of preparation games building up to the World Cup. In the previous meeting, the SARU Women’s High Performance Manager briefed the Committee on women representation. They have a lot of youth in their teams.

On its grassroots programme, SARU has an outreach programme used in primary schools – not at the traditional rugby schools, private or model C schools, but at the government schools. There is no school sport or physical education offered to pupils in public schools. They also have a programme for high schools which they fund themselves. The Ministry helps them on the ‘Get into Rugby’ programme in primary schools.

Mr Alexander replied that SARU did not spend R7 million in one year on Mr Roux’s case. The legal costs deal with all kinds of issues such as employment contracts, ongoing sponsor and broadcaster contracts and play injuries.

Mr Mhlongo interjected to raise a point of order. It seems the president has someone speaking to him while responding to questions.

Mr Alexander responded that he has a scribe.

Mr Mhlongo said it reminds of the time they thought the President of South Africa was doing the same thing, or it might be the Zoom platform that is not working well.

Mr Alexander said he does not behave that way.

The Chairperson said she heard someone speaking while Mr Alexander was giving his response. It is disturbing to Members on the platform. If the scribe has anything to contribute, s/he must add on to what Mr Alexander may have left out, but not while Mr Alexander is speaking.

The Chairperson asked Mr Alexander to continue.

Mr Alexander replied that it is very difficult to judge if the matter has impacted SARU’s reputation since it has been in the press for quite a while. However, we must act as responsible citizens and follow the processes.

Obtaining sponsorship for women’s rugby is still difficult, and they are knocking on many doors. They have a special member on the board, Peggy Sue Khumalo, who drives this process for them. It is still a problem as corporates are largely still sponsoring men’s sports. They are starting to break down doors. Internationally companies are starting to sponsor women’s sport and he hopes that this will happen in SA too.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Alexander and invited the Minister to speak.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the SARU board has been reporting on what they are doing, and the Ministry has always been responding to the board. The Ministry has said that action must be taken on this urgent matter. The Ministry is on par with how the Portfolio Committee views the matter. This matter is damaging the image of rugby in South Africa. There is no doubt about that. They need to accelerate the pace of the investigation.

Follow-up questions
Mr Mhlongo asked what is so private about the legal matter when the case will be heard at the Western Cape High Court? Where are the documents? They will be made public soon. He agrees with the Minister. Cricket SA came with the same tactics, but they received their own legal opinion that there is nothing private about this issue. These are legal opinions. How many are there? He asked the Minister if they are going to finalise this under his watch since he knows about the matter.

Mr Joseph said he did not receive a response about the WP matter being raised at the AGM. Has a decision already been made on the way forward? The Committee can decide if there should be a meeting to discuss all outstanding matters with other unions in dispute with SARU. This is a matter of concern. How much time does SARU need from the Committee to arrange a follow-up meeting and report back? We need to know about the implementation of this legal opinion soon. He is concerned about the SARU president's response which was not the same as he initially mentioned. This indicates SARU is not even at the stage to implement the opinion. Where are we on this opinion? KwaZulu Natal raised a lot of concerns, like the other unions. There was a settlement coming out of the AGM that SARU would deal with that matter – did the AGM regard this as serious? When will discussions continue?

Ms Van Dyk said one of her questions was not properly answered. Are there any stakeholders who do want to do business with SARU? How much money has SARU raised since the arbitration ruling in December 2021? It is important to establish if there is still business confidence in Mr Roux and SARU. What is the opinion on this? What is the gender transformation ratio in SARU?

Ms Malomane said the Minister has answered her question on the CEO case but she wanted SARU itself to respond. Have the HR specialists set any time frames?

Mr Madlingozi said that his questions were answered generally. The questions that he asked were very specific. How is SARU going to ensure that this will not be repeated out of respect for South Africans? How are they going to do it? What plans do they have? What power do the black faces under independent membership have towards transformation? Responding that the demographics speaks for itself is not an adequate answer. Can SARU show us specific progress made toward achieving transformation?

The Chairperson said that the Committee really needs timeframes on this matter. We want to see this matter finally resolved. The purpose of this platform is to carry out productive oversight. These matters are of national importance and entities need to work together to resolve urgent issues.

Mr Alexander responded that SARU does acknowledge the Minister's comments and it will respond to and follow through with the recommendations.

In response to Mr Mhlongo, they have handed the information to the Minister. SARU must follow procedure on this matter and abide by the law. If this case goes out into the public domain, it could be seen as constructive dismissal. This would give the CEO a different procedure and would cost a great amount of money. The HR specialist will guide SARU through the procedural implementation of the legal opinion.

In response to Mr Joseph, SARU had a special meeting with the provincial rugby presidents to discuss the matter. The presidents have been informed. The disputes are ongoing with the unions. The unions that were suspended have run themselves into trouble. They have not paid SARS or their dues. That is the only time SARU stepped in - it is not a dispute between the CEO and the unions. It is a dispute about SARU implementing its constitution. That is the problem we have – it is about the financial control of the union.

In response to Ms Van Dyk, they have been keeping their sponsors and stakeholders informed about the process they are following. They are waiting for the process to run its course. The gender ratio of the SARU structure stands at sixty percent men and forty percent women.

On timeframes, they have given the HR specialists one month to conclude the work.

On whether people of colour have power, all executive members have the same power. Everyone has the right to exercise a vote and ask a question at any time. We run as a democratic structure, and everyone has the right to raise concerns.

The Chairperson thanked the SARU president. She thanked the Minister for putting aside other commitments that he had. She was aware that the Deputy Minister attends other Committee meetings on Tuesdays. We cannot fold arms when things are happening. It is important to have good communication between entities and departments and report on urgent matters. SARU must exercise firm leadership and resolve these matters.

Mr Alexander replied about KwaZulu-Natal that it was proposed to look at the amateur and professional structures at the union going forward. He thanked the Committee for allowing SARU to complete the legal process and it will report back on developments. He assured Members there is nothing SARU is trying to hide. They are only trying to do things the right way.

SA National Monumental Flag Project
The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, opened the presentation by providing a brief background to the mandate. The presentation will look at the process, specifics, and technicalities of the National Flag Project. He wants to remind Members that one of the mandates is to transform the heritage landscape - build museums, build monuments, change colonial and Apartheid names of places, cities and anything else that dominates South African public space. Currently, our public space is still skewed against the majority. It still has symbols representing Apartheid and colonialism.

It is against this backdrop and in response to this mandate, we have been doing just that - the promotion and preservation of heritage which is a fully fledged branch led by a Deputy Director-General. We have developed a programme called #Iamtheflag that fosters partnerships with a variety of stakeholders. One of them is the Department of Basic Education. In popularising the flag and the symbols – together with our partnerships – we ensure that we distribute the idea of patriotism. It speaks to the question of identity. Identity is important for us to describe and define who we are. Together with the Department of Basic Education, we have installed flags in 25000+ schools. From time to time they are replenished when flags become old and worn out. The other part of the partnership is with the taxi industry.

The Monumental Flag is an important monument. This flag will be a defining symbol and reminder of our democracy. More importantly, it is a marker of our break with the colonial and Apartheid past. It epitomises democratic values of non-racism, non-sexism, non-tribalism and other values of our society. The flag embodies democratic principles as enshrined in our Constitution. We believe this monument should stand as a constant reminder of what our forebears stood for, fought and died for. We deploy artists and creatives to go to schools and educate learners about patriotism. Cabinet together with the Department of Basic Education wants to bolster the civic education programme in schools. This is to ensure that proper history is taught. The flag project will ensure that we can rewrite the story of colonialism and Apartheid in this country.

The Director-General, Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, said the presentation will brief Members on what the project is all about. It was not the first time that it is being presented.

Mr Vusithemba Ndima, DSAC Deputy Director-General: Heritage, Promotion and Preservation, briefed the Committee on the project purpose; Monumental Flag concept; benefits; strategic focus; key questions; discussion; project background; feasibility study phases and outcomes (see presentation).

Discussion
Mr Mhlongo said he supports social cohesion and nation building but is concerned about the money spent on the project. Is it value for money? Roughly R5 million has been spent. Who was the tender? When was the tender issued? Could we have the geo-study shared with us? What is the name of the company that did the environmental impact study? R70 million will be spent on this monument but small artists, organizations, theatres and NGOs could benefit from this R70 million too. It would help create jobs in the sector and contribute to other wonderful work. It is important to prioritize other issues and projects. He suggested creating more items that are tangible such as scholarships for artists and sport. The Department must consider this input and reconsider the project value. The Minister needs to understand the needs and realities to build the sector and money should be well spent. As an aside, he said that he did not see anything to do with sport in the Minister's Budget Speech.

Mr Madlingozi supports the idea of patriotism in South Africa and we are getting there as a country. There are problems that artists and the country are facing now. He suggested some of the money should be redirected to help artists and creatives that are currently struggling. Pressing issues must be dealt with first. Patriotism can be pushed later. Has the Department answered the request made by a claimant is legal team done 1 June 2021? What was the Department's response? Lastly, he asked for its opinion on AfriForum’s commitment to the Apartheid flag.

Ms Van Dyk said besides the Freedom Park and Voortrekker Monument, what are the factors that will attract visitors based on the choice of where the flag will be positioned? Will other initiatives be implemented to ensure the project provides sustainable job creation, not only short-term employment? Who were the service providers and consultants appointed in June 2020 to conduct the feasibility study? Was this study put to tender? Were the consultants included in the R22 million? Was this project up for tender and where? Has a company already been selected to do this project? She supports the potential of flags to unite and contribute to nation building; however, is it not poor judgement to prioritize this flag project, given the state of our country and the criticism of this department project in the media? Would this flag not instead remind people of the insensitivity of the ANC government toward the current needs and realities of South Africa?

Ms Malomane said she welcomed the presentation and input by the Minister. She appreciated the important work done by DSAC and guiding the issue of patriotism. The flag speaks something special to us as South Africans. It is a symbol to show that SA is a united nation. If it promotes tourism and job creation it will assist the country at this critical time. This is not the first time the Committee is hearing of this project. It was approved in the last financial year. The budget was passed for 2022/2023 along with the approval of the first stage of the flag project. How will DSAC reverberate the monumental impact of the project across the nation? The project must sustain job creation.

Ms Adams asked how is the monumental flag programme integrated into tourism networks? What is the projected socio-economic impact? Is there a breakdown of the flag programme and who will benefit from it? What economic impact would the flag draw?

Mr Zondi said that without reservations he fully supports the project. It makes one very proud as a South African citizen.

Mr Joseph said he welcomed the presentation. He supports the mandate of the Department and the Minister’s remarks on upholding our identity and democratic principles. He had concerns about the specifics of the flag. Why specifically is it a 120-meter pole? Why not a 60 meter? Why a 10x50 meter? The projected budget as raised for the maintenance and operations, it is not a flag that will have steel or aluminium pole, it appears the flag is a cloth that needs to be maintained. Why could the flag not be made from material that requires no maintenance? He supported Members' remarks on the transparency of the tender process and feasibility study. DASC needs to balance out what the Department must do in the context of the monumental and in promoting our heritage. He supports the project in principle but remains concerned about its technicalities and the amount of money that will be spent on the monument. Why does the flag have to be that big? Can it not be half the size and spend the rest of the money on other national critical needs?

The Chairperson thanked the leadership for the briefing. She supports the work of DSAC and asked what economic impact the flag project will have.

Department response
Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, DSAC Director-General, said in response to the value for money question and sustainability of the flag – it will be a tourist attraction and this will ensure that economic activity will accrue. It will contribute to cultural tourism. The full project concept is beyond just being a pole. There is a clear outline of how the project will be done and how it will generate economic activity. At the same time, it will be an iconic symbol that represents our dignity. The meaning of a flag is sometimes belittled and denigrated. We must understand how government is designed to respond to the needs of citizens. We want to be clear that DSAC is not being insensitive to the needs of its citizens. We have to spend money on departmental imperatives. National symbols are symbolic means of reparation that needs to be implemented. Not everybody can receive material compensation for their suffering. The project began long before the floods in KZN and other current realities we are facing in the country. Project operations will also contribute to job creation. He asked how is the Department to respond to the transformation of our heritage landscape? The values the flag symbolises is what we need to deepen. We are trying to balance expenditures for the project and for artists and creatives. We have the geo and feasibility report. This will be made available to the Committee. It is not possible for DSAC to stop the project and attend to other issues. Government departments do not operate in this way. We have provisions to create jobs in all our different programmes. Even national days, for instance, create job opportunities.

In response to AfriForum, it is an emotive response to how people want to define their future. That flag represented a separatist Apartheid nation. Our flag represents the democratic dispensation. This flag is one of the social compacts that brought South Africans together.

Mr Ndima clarified that no one has been appointed to do the actual construction and installation of the flag. In 2020 the study was commissioned. A company was appointed to do that work for the total amount of R1.7 million. The name of the company was called Delta Built Environmental Consulting. We started consultative processes. We went to the technical working group of the social cluster. We went to the social cluster itself and then to Cabinet. The matter was only represented on the 16 February to Cabinet. The findings of the study were also approved. A bid was needed to allow processes of construction. There is still a need to understand the details of geotechnical evaluation and the environmental impact assessment. This will help us understand what will be disturbed in terms of fauna and flora, soil type, and what it can sustain, since it is a massive project. The material used for the flag will be polyester. This fabric increases durability and will be ideal for windy weather conditions. It will therefore be low maintenance. The specific height of the pole is an important feature for visual impact.

Mr Ndima replied about the claimant – a response was issued on 27 April 2021 after investigating all the submissions made. Economic growth and activity are often generated out of iconic structures such as this. The monument considers both ideological and economic imperatives for the nation. It is too early to provide economic quantifications of the project.

Ministry response
Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Ms Nocawe Mafu, expressed her support and appreciation for the work of Department and the programme #iamtheflag. She stressed that nation building, and social cohesion is not an event. It is a process. There will always be competing priorities. The process of nation building cannot be put on hold. The officials have responded eloquently to all questions raised. If there is more information the Committee requires, this will be made available. The project generated a lot of conversation and criticism. This in itself, is an important part of nation building. Comments and remarks on the project are very welcome. It generates critical national conversation among citizens, the public and government. She appreciates that members of the Committee support the project in principle despite having reservations.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa said he echoes the Deputy Minister’s comments. We had a civil engagement. He explained that there is division of labour in the Ministry. During the budget vote, the Deputy Minister handled the sports division. It is for this reason sport was not mentioned in his speech. There are scholarships and bursaries for a variety of areas. This includes Arts, Heritage, Language and others. Expenditure on the project was not taken for granted. The Department opted to choose a monument that would last forever. The road to social progress is always under construction. The studies show the benefits of the project contribute to intangible heritage value.

Mr Joseph asked about the visibility of the flag. Will it only be seen during the day or will it be visible at night-time? Will electrification be built into the flag and the poles?

Mr Mhlongo asked about the construction process of the project. What other companies will be involved? What are the details of the environmental study? How many flags do they envisage having? The Committee would like clarification on details from DSAC and not from the media.

Mr Ndima replied that the flag will be seen both during the day and at night.

On the Flag Project press coverage, Mr Ndima replied that it is difficult to account for information stated in the media. The cost of the feasibility study totalled R1.7 million. It is a misunderstanding presented in the media that DSAC has spent R5 million on this project.

Deputy Minister Mafu said that the officials have answered all questions and noted the comments about receiving accurate information from the Department instead of information from the media.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for the briefing on the Flag Project. The Committee now has more detailed information about the project developments.

The Committee adopted minutes of 3 and 4 May 2022.

The meeting was adjourned.

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