IN a country which has five million illiterates and a semi-literate leadership, librarians are valuable guides, gate-keepers of the local houses of accumulated human knowledge and in this information-driven world, force-multipliers who have the power to improve thousands of lives by advising what books to read.
Because they're not viewed as "essential", the ANC-mismanaged municipality has ignored their need for improved working conditions and salary parity over the last eight years.
Like others, I decried this flagrant abuse, asked in vain for the prompt resolution of the problems, and supported librarians in the face of opposition from those who believe civil and municipal servants should not strike, instead be grateful for having a job to be exploited in, because to protest would prick the beautiful pink bubble residents live in.
All that came to a halt when striking librarians disrupted a gathering at the Newton Park library and one of them later portrayed it as being based on what "comrades" did against apartheid and that having a grievance justifies ignoring "legal technicalities".
Dear frustrated librarians, "liberation movements" mined farm roads, blew up Magoo's Bar and Sasol refineries, attacked the Koeberg reactor, shot unarmed people in St James' church and necklaced next door neighbours for mere suspicion of being police informers. In 1994, most of you elected such a "liberation movement" and mandated it to establish a new social order.
Thus, disrupting a duly elected government and lawfully assembled citizens exercising their rights (equal to yours) makes you liable to be charged with public violence and inciting such acts may even see you accused of treason and insurrection.
Furthermore, Act 108 of 1996, Chapter 2, Section 17, states "Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions".
This is not a "legal technicality" to be derided and ignored by you.
Oh no, it's the Bill of Rights in the constitution of South Africa, which applies to all law-abiding citizens (and convicted criminals), not just to striking librarians on a rampage!
While on the subject of movements and revolutions, please refer to this quote from the movie Under Siege "Hence the name: movement. It moves a certain distance, then it stops, you see? A revolution gets its name by always coming back around, in your face."
Please use legal means to settle your dispute with the municipality and respect the rights of the citizens who pay your salaries, or find yourselves even more isolated than you already are.
Eish, so much for my "literary retirement"...
M Negres, Port Elizabeth