By Katlego Suzan Phala (MPL), DA Spokesperson for Sports, Arts and Culture:
The DA will be seeking an urgent intervention from the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to probe the failure by the provincial department to utilise a staggering budget of R127 million to upgrade and assist the local libraries with the adequate resources.
The DA tried at numerous occasions to seek an urgent intervention from the Department to assist all these community libraries, but, despite the huge budget to their disposal, our plea fell on the deaf ears.
During a recent oversight visit to Mankweng Library, the DA discovered the library has no alarm while cameras and telephones are dysfunctional and computers are at risk of being stolen.
All the staff members are risking their lives as they can be robbed at any time and would have to rely on using their own cellphones to call for help from the local police station.
The DA has noted that many people opted to travel to Polokwane library to renew their books, as their local libraries’ phones do no work at all.
It is a tremendous burden for especially unemployed residents to travel to Polokwane daily to enquire about their books and other issues related to their studies.
At Mankweng library, only two computers work while an internet voucher lasts for an hour. Many students are being turned away due to long queues waiting to use these old computers. The library also has only one cleaner.
A motorised gate was installed and staff were given remote controls to operate the gate. These gates are not working due to the weakness of their electricity volts, making one wonder if the library was electrified well enough from the onset to accommodate an electric gate.
At All Days (Blouberg Municipality), Mogwadi Library, (Molemole Municipality), Moletjie Library (Polokwane Municipality) and Molepo Library, some buildings are not well maintained, there is no internet connection and books are sadly outdated.
Limpopo MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, Nandi Ndalane, failed to intervene, despite several pleas to her Department and despite a generous budget of R112 million in this financial year to maintaine these community libraries.
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 urges Minister Mthethwa to probe the matter and ensure that all these community libraries are well maintained and to take action against officials who fail to maintain the facilities despite the budget.