By Katlego Suzan Phala (MPL), DA Spokesperson for Sports, Arts and Culture:
The DA has today written to the MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, Nandi Ndalane, seeking her immediate intervention on several neglected community libraries that are poorly maintained despite being allocated more than R112 million in this financial year.
The DA believes that community libraries should be centres of knowledge, that empower our young people to learn about their world and to make a difference. Without proper libraries our communities cannot develop intellectually and academically.
The DA has discovered that more than five community libraries are either on the verge of collapsing, neglected or not being well maintained by the local municipalities or the department. In an oversight visit and survey done on various libraries recently , the DA has discovered that :
ü In Ga-Molepo, the library is operating without a librarian for almost two years with only two assistant librarians, with no cleaners while the grass is growing on the pavement.
ü No electricity, water and telephone since February due to the failure of the department to pay Eskom bill.
ü At All days (Blouberg Municipality) , Mogwadi Library, (Molemole Municipality), Moletjie Library (Polokwane Municipality) , the buildings are not well maintained , no internet connection and sadly outdated books.
During the 2015 budget speech, MEC Ndalane announced that the department had increased the Library and Archives programme budget of R93 714 000 in 2014/15 to R 127 311 000 in 2015/16 financial year. The department has also increased its library conditional grant, from R 81 010 000 in 2014/15 to R 112 156 000 in 2015/16 financial year.
It is greatly concerning that the allocated budget to maintain the existing community libraries and build new libraries, is clearly not being properly spent. Failure to utilise these funds is proof that the ANC government is not committed to uplifting our communities.
The DA urges MEC Ndalane to probe the understaffing of libraries in Limpopo, and to ensure that the generous R112 million budget is properly spent on library buildings and books.