15 libraries have been shelved

Fifteen Eastern Cape public libraries have been shut down due to a shortage of basic services such as water, electricity and ablution facilities.

Details of the closures were revealed in a report which sport, recreation, arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina issued in response to questions at the Bhisho Legislature dated September 24.

This was after former premier and DA MPL Nosimo Balindlela submitted questions to Majodina on the state of the 203 public libraries in the province.

Majodina said: “Currently there are 15 libraries that are closed in the Eastern Cape.

“The libraries have a challenge of water and electricity.”

Majodina said in eight of the 15 libraries, book shelves are empty and the department was in the process of procuring books.

She said among the libraries facing serious problems is a mobile library in Mango village in Matatiele. The library, which was placed in the village in 2011, will have to be moved elsewhere “due to the fact that there are no prospects in the near future of having water and electricity in the area”, a setback for the hundreds of pupils in surrounding villages.

Balindlela described the department’s failure to keep open the doors of all public libraries as “assault on rural development.

“Sadly, most of these libraries are in areas where people lack facilities and where they rely on state facilities in order to gain access to information and knowledge.

“Public libraries should be an important centre of learning and development in communities. They are a place where young people should have access to information for their homework and for projects for their university studies,” said Balindlela.

She singled out OR Tambo district municipality where eight libraries in the district are not functioning, while three remain closed in Alfred Nzo, two in Sarah Baartman and two in Amathole district.

“Libraries are part of the ladder of opportunity that communities have to climb out of poverty,” said Balindlela.

She said the provincial government must take urgent measures “to ensure that where we spend money on state facilities, that they are operational”.

“As a person with a rural background and with a deep understanding of the importance of education, I will continue to fight for the upliftment of our rural communities,” Balindlela added.

Majodina said her department was in consultation with Eskom and the affected municipalities regarding provision of basic services such as water and electricity. — zineg@dispatch.co.za

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