mobile libraries books

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Mobile library buses: R4 million wasted on useless vehicles

The DA has called for the dismissal of KZN Arts and Culture MEC after two useless buses were bought for more than R4 million.

mobile libraries books

Image via Pixabay

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the immediate dismissal of provincial Arts and Culture MEC, Hlengiwe Mavimbela, following the discovery of what the party has described as allegedly “shockingly poor leadership, leading to wasteful expenditure” regarding the purchase of mobile libraries.

DA member of the KZN provincial legislature and spokesperson on Arts and Culture, Bradley Singh, called on KZN premier Sihle Zikalala to take action against Mavimbela.

“The DA found earlier this week that the Department of Arts and Culture (DoAC) took delivery of two 65-seater buses in March – to be used as mobile libraries – which are standing idle at the KZN Museum Services in Pietermaritzburg (view here and here). The buses were purchased by the DoAC at a cost of more than R4 million during the last financial year,” Singh said.

He said the DA had been “reliably informed” that despite the significant outlay, the DoAC has since discovered that the buses cannot be converted as their mechanical structure does not physically allow for such a change. It has further been claimed that the only way the department can get around the problem is by spending millions of Rands on upgrading the suspensions.

“These two buses are set to become yet another white elephant and part of a long line of failed initiatives by KZN’s ANC-led government,” he said,

He said the latest debacle was the  result of the MEC and her department’s failure to apply logic and do their homework before forking out millions of rands. 

“That the buses have remained parked and unused for eight months is also a clear sign that they are clueless as to how to rectify the problem. The DA has submitted a written parliamentary question to the MEC in this regard and we expect answers,” Singh said.

“To add insult to injury, the DoAC initially had four mobile libraries, however a hasty decision was taken to sell two at an auction. This despite one of the vehicles not meeting government criteria of 100 000 kms before auction, with only 9 000 km on the odometer,” he said.

He said the department was not fully dedicated to ensuring that the mobile library programme was a success.

“This is also evidenced by the fact that KZN’s mobile libraries at one stage housed computers, which the DoAC failed to replace when they became outdated. The funding spent on these two buses could have gone a long way in ensuring that existing technology is upgraded and usable computers installed,” Singh said.

“The irregularities within the DoAC have grown out of control while the MEC has failed to effectively carry out her duties. The Department has also become synonymous with wasteful expenditure yet no one is being held responsible for such decisions. The Premier needs to act before it is too late for this Department to be saved. 

He called for Zikalala to remove Mavimbela and to take action against another senior official in her department.

A spokesperson for Mavimbela had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.