An ANC ward councillor has allegedly kept a multimillion rand modular library in Nquthu, northern KZN, under lock and key for two years preventing access to pupils and the community
An ANC ward councillor has allegedly kept a multimillion rand modular library in Nquthu, northern KZN, under lock and key for two years preventing access to pupils and the community

Nquthu community allegedly denied access to library by ward councillor

By Lethu Nxumalo Time of article published Sep 27, 2021

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Durban - An ANC ward councillor has allegedly kept a multimillion rand modular library in Nquthu, northern KZN, under lock and key for two years preventing access to pupils and the community. The councillor was apparently disgruntled over staff hired to run the facility.

The Ngolokodo library with over three thousand books, internet, water, electricity and specialised equipment worth almost R700 000 was opened in 2019 by former MEC of Arts and Culture Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.

Since then, councillor Sibusiso Mandlenkosi Zikode, has allegedly been changing locks and enlisting the assistance of some community members to keep the facility gathering dust. Zikode wants the municipality to rehire locals which he claims were overlooked for the library positions.

This week, the DA submitted questions to current Arts and Culture MEC, Hlengiwe Mavimbela, demanding answers on why a ward councillor was in control and denying access to a facility meant to benefit the community.

Bradley Singh, DA KZN Spokesperson on Arts and Culture, said the purpose of the modular library was to ensure access to the internet and information in deep rural areas.

“When visiting these areas from the city and seeing children utilising these facilities, it’s always worth it. But when they are disadvantaged because of one politician, it’s unacceptable,” he said.

Singh said Mavimbela had not responded to the DA but claimed that it was expected because Zikode was her comrade.

“They have been sitting on this matter for two years, but you will see before the elections they will speak to the councillor and the library will be opened again.

“Why must the community suffer, they need to be fair. We will continue to expose them until the people benefit,” he said.

Nquthu municipal manager, Sithembiso Mthembu, accused Zikode of wanting to hold the municipality hostage by demanding things be done his way. He said when the municipality sent library employees to assess the situation on Wednesday, they found that Zikode had again changed the locks.

“The councillor is acting outside of the code of conduct, and intervention from the MEC and Cogta is needed.

“The municipal employment process has nothing to do with counsellors and when Zikode says locals must be employed, to what extent because the process was fair and transparent,” Mthembu said.

He explained that when he was appointed almost two years ago, he conducted an investigation into the alleged unfair appointment of library staff, but found that the employment process had been above board and that there had not been many candidates from the area with the required qualifications.

“The community has suffered enough and it is interesting because the matter was reported to the MEC and the police,” he said.

Mayor Zama Shabalala said when he came in as the new office bearer about a year and a half ago, he had been aware of the matter. He explained that when the municipality had vacancies, they were advertised and were open to all Nquthu residents who qualify to apply.

“Those who were employed at the library are qualified, but it is obvious that Zikode wanted his people, who were not shortlisted, to be considered,” he said.

Shabalala said they had considered enlisting the services of a security company to reopen the library but that Nquthu speaker, Mbongeni Mnguni, had advised the involvement of stakeholders, including the traditional council to resolve the matter.

Mnguni told the Sunday Tribune that they were engaging with Inkosi Molefe to establish his position.

“We were disturbed by the pandemic but we are going to make that happen. The library has all the facilities including human resources that the councillor has blocked.

“We have tried our level best but the councillor continues to change the locks, blocking access. He involves the community to disrupt whatever the municipality tries to do. The police were involved, but no arrests have been made,” Mnguni said.

Phathisa Mfuyo, spokesperson for the KZN Department of Arts and Culture said the DA’s questions to the MEC were misdirected as the facility was fully handed over and fully under the Nquthu municipality.

ANC Nquthu ward councillor Zikode did not respond to the Sunday Tribune.

Sunday Tribune

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