The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has called for a probe over the Non-distribution Of 60,000 Library Books by Arts and Culture MEC, Hlengiwe Mavimbela, SurgeZirc SA reports.
In a statement made available to SurgeZirc SA on Wednesday, the DA said it is disappointed that books meant to be distributed across libraries across the province have been sitting gathering dust at the Head Office for Library Services since 2019.
“The DA is deeply disappointed by this latest finding in a series of blunders by the Department. Earlier this year, we raised concerns around library books following the finding that many facilities had not received any new reading material for as long as three years.
“The worst part is that most of the books lying in storage are school set books, which have now become redundant and outdated and cannot be used,” the statement said.
The DA further alleged that library book funds, allocated as part of KZN’s Department of Arts and Culture (DoAC) budget, during the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 financial years, have been misused, stating that a probe should be undertaken to unearth how the funds were used.
“During a KZN Arts and Culture portfolio committee meeting, on 24 August, DoAC HOD, Ntokozo Chonco assured members of the provincial portfolio committee that 40 000 library books would be purchased in the first quarter of 2021/2022.
“He also promised that a further 10 000 books would be delivered in the second quarter. The HOD also assured the portfolio committee that these 50 000 books would be purchased by the end of September 2021.
“It comes as no surprise that, yet again, nothing has been done and no tenders have been awarded for the supply of these books. The DA believes that the HOD must not only explain this failure but also take full responsibility for it.
“The irony, that the DoAC has been hiding away purchased books while libraries in the province have been waiting in vain for new books, is not lost on the DA. In fact, this is now the third time that the DA has been forced to enquire about the Department’s procurement of library books.
“The DoAC’s alleged audited financials show that the budget allocation for library books has been used in full during 2019, but a very different picture has emerged on the ground.
“Even worse is that the Department keeps making excuses that Covid-19 has impacted the purchase of books despite the fact that book shortages were an issue long before the onset of the virus.
“None of this adds up and the DA is no longer prepared to recognize Hlengiwe Mavimbela as MEC and cannot address her as such going forward due to the ongoing corruption and mismanagement within her Department,” the statement reads.
The DA further urged Premier Zikalala to provide answers and to initiate an urgent forensic probe into the purchase and distribution of library books in our province.
“Libraries play a vital role within KZN’s communities. They need to be properly resourced and maintained if they are to continue to do so. The DA will continue to fight for answers when it comes to how and where this critical funding is spent,” the statement concludes