Libraries get big slice of KZN arts, culture funds

2012-06-08 00:00

PLANS have been drawn up to build a 15 000 square-metre state-of-the-art library in eThekwini to accommodate the existing five separate service points and to provide for a larger book collection with additional study rooms, Arts and Culture MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha said yesterday.

She was delivering her department’s budget speech at the KZN legislature.

The scattered five library buildings cost eThekwini Municipality over R6 million per year in rent.

The department received a budget of R470,8 million for the financial year 2012/2013, a portion of which will go to the construction of the library, which will cost R586 million.

The project will be funded by the department and eThekwini Municipality.

“The department will provide R440 million over three years, with an additional R25 million coming from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The balance of the cost will be provided by the eThekwini Municipality,” said the MEC.

Department spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said the plan was to complete the library in three years. “At the moment we are still at the conceptual stage, and we have just appointed the architect, with the commencement of laying down the foundation being early next year,” said Mntungwa.

A further R16,4 million has been allocated for the building of community libraries around the province, with new libraries already established at Ntambanana and Mbazwana.

Further investments were made in the form of 16 mobile library units and four mobile library trucks to service for areas where there is no formal library infrastructure.

Democratic Alliance MPL George Mari called for an investigation into the need for the eThekwini “mega library”. “The department could build an additional 15 libraries where the need is far greater,” he said.

“We don’t want another Moses Mabhida Stadium on our hands.”

Calling the budget allocated “an embarrassment”, he said very little consideration was given to the department. “This budget is stagnant and therefore hinders the department from carrying out its mandate,” said Mari.

He said the mobile libraries were a scam, as none had been delivered.

“The culprits — officials and the contractor — have got away with this … over R2 million gone.”

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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