Anger as lack of funding forces 12 Eastern Cape libraries to close

Twelve Eastern Cape libraries are expected to be shut down, the DA says. (File photo)
Twelve Eastern Cape libraries are expected to be shut down, the DA says. (File photo)
Image: Thinkstock

Twelve libraries in the Dr Beyers Naude municipality in the Eastern Cape, which includes the historic town of Graaff-Reinet, are to close on Monday. 

The provincial department of sport, recreation arts and culture has allegedly failed to pay over a funding grant.

A post shared by DA councillor Samantha Graham on Facebook on February 1 said that the "cash-strapped" municipality had no choice but to close the libraries.

"Because the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture has failed to pay over the library grant 6 months into the financial year, our cash-strapped municipality has no choice but to close all 12 libraries in our municipal area," Graham wrote.

Because the Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture has failed to pay over the library grant 6...

Posted by Samantha Graham on Thursday, 31 January 2019

The DA's shadow MEC for the department, Nomvano Zibondo, said grant funding of R2.4m had been due for longer than six months.

"The cash-strapped municipality has been carrying the costs of the libraries but has reached a point now where there are no longer funds to cover operating costs or pay staff, which has led to the municipality announcing the shutdown until further notice," Zibondo said.

Zibondo said libraries played an important part in education and learning in communities.

"They are a place where young people should have access to information for their homework, where students can go for projects for their university studies and where job seekers can access online job portals."

Zibondo said she had submitted questions to the department's MEC, Bulelwa Tunyiswa, to get clarity on the funding issue. 

The department could not immediately be reached for comment.

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