Res­i­dents slam mayor’s ‘pub­lic­ity stunt’

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - NORMA WILDENBOER STAFF RE­PORTER

RITCHIE res­i­dents have slammed the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, say­ing that a brand new in­ter­net cafe, meant to up­lift the com­mu­nity, is “just an­other ex­pen­sive pub­lic­ity stunt by the mayor”.

The in­ter­net cafe, launched about two months ago by Sol Plaatje ex­ec­u­tive mayor, Man­gal­iso Matika, at the Ritchie SMME, is yet to be put to use.

It houses 10 com­put­ers in cu­bi­cles and was, ac­cord­ing to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, “opened with the in­ten­tion of pro­vid­ing much needed ser­vices to the Ritchie com­mu­nity”.

“The area around the in­ter­net cafe will also serve as a Wi-Fi hot spot to al­low the youth to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion, us­ing their smart­phones.

“The cafe has been ac­ti­vated with 10 com­put­ers. It will seek to as­sist school chil­dren with re­search and en­trepreneurs to seek busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. En­trepreneurs can also use the in­ter­net to ac­cess the Cen­tral Sup­plier Data­base and reg­is­ter their busi­nesses. This is a clear demon­stra­tion of our com­mit­ment to chang­ing the lives of our im­pov­er­ished com­mu­ni­ties and bring­ing back the dig­nity of our peo­ple,” Matika said at the time.

How­ever, a visit to the in­ter­net cafe this past week­end re­vealed that it is yet to be taken into use, as there is no con­nec­tion to the in­ter­net yet.

At the cafe, only the pho­to­copier is in use, with a se­cu­rity guard as­sist­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic with us­ing the ma­chine.

The 10 com­put­ers are yet to be used.

A group of stu­dents at­tend­ing a learn­er­ship pro­gramme in one of the SMME class­rooms, said that they be­lieve that the in­ter­net cafe is “just a pub­lic­ity stunt by the mayor” and that it will be­come “just an­other ex­pen­sive white ele­phant”.

“The mayor came here and opened the in­ter­net cafe with much fan­fare and made lots of prom­ises, like that grass would be planted around the SMME and that the in­ter­net cafe would open in two weeks’ time.

“It is now al­most two months later and noth­ing has hap­pened, lead­ing us to be­lieve that ev­ery­thing was just empty prom­ises, again,” the stu­dents said.

They added that they could not do re­search, write CVs or ap­ply on­line for jobs, as de­spite hav­ing the fa­cil­i­ties at the in­ter­net cafe they could not make use of them.

“The in­ter­net cafe is just gath­er­ing dust, while we have to use our own data and phones to do re­search and get in­for­ma­tion for as­sign­ments,” the stu­dents said.

“The Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity has again failed us, as is the case with the newly con­structed li­brary in Ritchie, which has also been stand­ing empty and locked for sev­eral months. We were promised that the li­brary would open in Septem­ber but un­til now, no word from any­one.”

They added that stu­dents and pupils had to travel to Kim­ber­ley if they wanted to ac­cess a li­brary.

“What is the use use of a li­brary if it con­tains no books, and is just an (ex­pen­sive) empty shell?” they asked.

Mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son, Sello Mat­sie, while not be­ing able to give much in­for­ma­tion about the an­tic­i­pated open­ing date of the li­brary, say­ing that it was a “pro­vin­cial com­pe­tency”, added that the open­ing of the in­ter­net cafe was a be­ing han­dled as a “mat­ter of ur­gency” Danie van der Lith

by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

He de­nied that there was not an in­ter­net con­nec­tion, but said that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was still ad­dress­ing “staffing mat­ters” and was about to ap­point a su­per­vi­sor for the cafe, af­ter which it would be­come fully func­tional.

Mat­sie would, how­ever, not spec­u­late about a date for the open­ing.

LOCKED: A newly con­structed li­brary in Ritchie was set to be opened in Septem­ber but, in­stead still re­mains locked and empty. Stu­dents are forced to use the li­brary in Kim­ber­ley. Pic­ture:

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