The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for answers from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Arts and Culture MEC, Hlengiwe Mavimbela, (view here) regarding the poor state of arts centres in the province, many of which remain incomplete while also displaying shoddy workmanship.
The move comes after the DA recently conducted oversight inspections at both the uThungulu Arts Centre and the Bulwer Arts Centre in the Harry Gwala District.
In the case of uThungulu, this Arts Centre initially lay dormant for several years with only Phase 1 of the project completed (view here). Regrettably, Phase 2 has now also ground to a halt due to an investigation into structural defects and payments already made to contractors, which remains pending.
The launch of this facility has been much anticipated by the local community. Yet, sadly, all they have to date, is an eyesore due to poor construction.
The uThungulu arts centre was funded by KZN’s Department of Arts and Culture (DoAC) at a total cost of R25 million from Treasury. In addition, the Independent Development Trust (IDT) was meant to continue the project, however nothing has been done to date while R3 million worth of the budget remains with the Trust.
The DoAC has further allocated R5 million in this years’ budget towards the completion of the arts centre. However, there do not appear to be any attempts to do so.
This centre is alleged to have had R13 million spent on its construction to date, however the current state of the centre indicates otherwise. The roof is collapsing, the walls are cracked, drains are clogged and doors are missing. Sadly, the DoAC has claimed that it does not have a budget for the upkeep of the centre.
The people of Uthungulu and Bulwer are not alone in their frustration. The DA is aware of the fast state of deterioration of other centres due to little or no maintenance.
Arts centres are not only important in terms of promoting arts and culture – they are also critical in tapping into creating understanding and unity when it comes to different cultures. Something our province and our country need very badly.
Yet, in the case of uThungula and Bulwer, local communities are being left out in the cold as a result of ongoing failures by the Department of Arts and Culture (DoAC).
It is clear that the people of our province cannot rely on the Department of Arts and Culture. The ANC must be held accountable for this abuse of taxpayers’ money in KZN.