Address by Deputy Minister Phaahla at the official opening of Botleng Public Library, Nkangala District Municipality

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30 Aug 2012

Programme Director;
MEC, Ms Manana
The Executive Mayor; SK Mashilo
Mayor of Victor Khanye Local Municipality: CIR Makhabane
Councillors from  Both District and Local Municipalities
Traditional Leaders: Inkosi Ngomane
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I feel honoured to be here with you today to officially open the Botleng Public Library. Being here in Delmas in this year 2012- When we celebrate our liberation heritage; brings back memories of two major Treason trials which took place here in Delmas in the mid-80’s, one of which I attended on  few occasions.

  • The UDF Treason Trial involving Popo Molefe, Ternor, Moss Chikane and others. They were sentenced 10years but only  served 2-3 years.
  • MK Treason Trial involving Ting Ting Masango, Neo Ponane, Jabu Masina who were later sentenced to Death but survived as a result of negotiation processes.

I am therefore happy to be here today under different circumstances, where we are celebrating the achievement of the democracy and freedom we were fought for in those years.

The opening of this Library represents a small step in the realisation of a vision of the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous RSA as envisioned by our fore-bearers in the Freedom Charter and again, recently a week ago pronounced as a 2030 vision by the National Development Plan.

Amongst the rights which the freedom fighters of the two Delmas Trials were fighting for, were the rights to access to information and right to good quality education. As we know knowledge is power and without access to good quality education and information you can’t develop both as an individual and as a community.

We know that a major legacy of our oppression under colonialism and apartheid was restricted access of the majority of black people to very important information and good quality education.

  •  It is not by accident that the community of this municipality have 34% illiteracy as per 2001 census, and only 29% with matric and above
  • That many of our people have limited skills to participate in the economy while you are sitting on big part of natural resources in the mineral aid coal and agricultural production.

It is because of the understanding of the fundamental role of education, skills, access to information and knowledge both from formal sources such as schools, but also informal information from reading books, magazines, newspapers and electronic forms of sources of information that our government is investing not only in formal education and but also in libraries and multipurpose community centres.
The DAC through the Nation Libraries and Information Services is the lead Department for facilitating dissemination of information and mobilising our people to make sure that once they can read they get interested in all forms of Literature.
By so doing it is hoped that by not later than 2030 we could have created a well-informed society, which can then become involved citizens in their own development.

The Botleng Library construction started last year-2011 and was completed in March this year. Another new library was completed in Hluvukani, Beit Bridge.

  • Congratulations to Mpumalanga Province for 2011/12
  • And congratulations for overall since 2007. More library projects are under construction as we speak: 10 new and 17 Upgrades.

Through The Community Library Project, many communities have access to:

  • Books
  • Internet
  • Computer literacy
  • New skills and are able to compete for jobs
  • School learners also benefits: 6 Primary Schools and 3 High Schools
  • Next 3 years: R1.6 bn
  • Mpumalanga Province R218m
  • Challenges
  • Look after libraries
  • Easy target in Toyi Toyi
  • Encourage young and old to read. Make them attractive, create a vibe for reading
  • Also to read in African Languages
  • National Library
  • African Classics
  • Botleng will get copies Today

Also improving provision of reading material for blind and visually impaired- Braille Material.

As I conclude, let me again appeal to the people of Botleng, Victor Khanye Municipality and Nkangala:

  • This is your asset
  • Look after it
  • Protect it
  • Make full use of it , young and old, man and women
  • Let it be understood to be a fountain of knowledge

Next time we must find it buzzing with people