Remember this post from last week, expressing disbelief and dismay at the alleged plans to spend R22 million on a Big Flag?
The Government said:
This has the potential to unite people as it becomes a symbol of unity and common identity.
The project is envisaged to contribute towards nation-building and social cohesion.
And I said:
Well, guess what happened?
This week, pisspoor Minister (apologies for the tautology) Nathi Mthethwa launched the Big Plan for a Big Flag, and the nation – all built and socially cohesed – turned around together as one and told him to Tsek.
Now, having “taken note of public discourse” (which was basically a collection of suggestions, generally ending with the word “off”) and:
In upholding these ethos and the inalienable rights of citizens to be heard, the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture has directed his department to review the process related to the Monumental Flag in its totality.
Now, this is actually a Good Thing. It is very unusual for a Minister or any member of government to actually give a toss what the public think. And that’s because those ministers and members of government are safe, privileged and untouchable. They don’t have to listen, because there are no consequences whatsoever for them not listening.
So Mthethwa apparently hearing the er… “discourse”, and actually having some sort of reaction – albeit merely “reviewing the process” at this point – is to be applauded.
The real acid tests come when: 1. there is a reasonable outcome to the review – and that doesn’t necessarily mean that the project is dropped: maybe they find private sponsorship for it, for example; 2. the next time something like this crosses Nathi’s desk, he remembers this situation and says “no” before it goes any further; and 3. any other Minister looks at this situation and Mthethwa’s reaction, and chooses to listen to the public regarding their feelings on any given project or idea as well.
Optimistic people may think that this could be a watershed moment.
The realists amongst us have already drunk half our glass and we’re ordering a brandy chaser to deal with the inevitable disappointment.