George Mari, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Arts and Culture
The KwaZulu-Natal Documentation Centre – a facility which houses priceless records and artefacts relating to the province’s Indian community – appears to be way down on the priority list of the ANC-led provincial government.
The official opening of extensions to the centre has been delayed three times. A statue promised by the Premier is yet to materialise. And now, a promise made by KZN Arts and Culture MEC, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Sapetha, during her budget speech more than six months ago, that a double-storey building on the same property would be returned is yet to come to fruition.
During her speech the MEC announced that the rights to the building would be removed from KZN’s Music House and returned to their rightful owner, the 1860 Heritage Centre. The KZN Music House currently falls under the umbrella of the province’s Economic Development and Tourism (ECOD) department.
Last week I visited the Centre. To my bitter disappointment I found that the building has not been handed over as promised by the MEC. This means that invaluable records, artefacts and heirlooms remain in storage gathering dust, as they have been for up to seven years now.
The DA demands an explanation from the MEC. We want to know whether she has engaged with ECOD MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu over the transfer of this facility. We also want to know who the legal owner of the building is at this stage and will submit parliamentary questions to this effect.
The Documentation Centre has become a sorry saga – the manner in which matters are being dealt with have severely stifled the steering committee.
Despite ongoing appeals to the provincial government, an extension to the Centre was not opened in time for the 150 year celebrations to mark the arrival of indentured Indian people in South Africa. First it was scheduled for November 2012. Then it was moved to May 2013, then to November last year. And still we wait.
The DA will also follow up on the lack of action regarding former Premier, Zweli Mkhize’s proposal to construct a monument to commemorate the arrival of indentured labourers and the subsequent contribution of the Indian community to this province. Funding for this was set aside in 2011 yet there is still no statue.
The needs of KZN’s Indian community are constantly being put on the backburner – clearly they are not a priority for the provincial government.