Youth Wing Anger at NYDA 'Gravy Train'

Article excerpt

THERE is a groundswell of anger among the youth wings of opposition parties about the National Development Youth Agency (NYDA), which they say is ineffective and effectively functions as a gravy train for the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told the Cape Times: "The presidency is not engaging with the debate around disbanding the NYDA. It continues to function and their last budget (R1.2 billion) was approved."

Earlier this month the IFP Youth Brigade submitted a letter to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela asking for a full inquiry into the World Youth Festival in December last year.

The festival overshot its budget by R67 million, bringing the full cost to R106m.

The Cope Youth Movement has also made an official call for disbanding it, while in the North West the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) has called for the dissolution of the NYDA board in its province.

Cosas provincial chairperson Tshiamo Tsotesi said: "The NYDA board is not serving the interests of the youth in the province. It exists but is in fact invisible. Therefore, we have resolved to engage the premier to try and ensure that such a board is dissolved with effect from January next year."

Makashule Gana, leader of the DA Youth, said his organisation welcomed the support expressed by the IFP Youth Brigade, Cope Youth Movement and Cosas.

"That the president stands by idly and allows youth development funds to be wasted in such a brazen manner, is a slap in the face of every young South African," he said.

"We made an official submission to the Presidency during the debacle in the wake of the youth festival in February this year and have not received any comeback or invitation for further discussion."

Gana said the R1.2bn recently allocated to the agency was "ostensibly funding an ANCYL employment agency", and that the money could rather create approximately 32 400 job opportunities for unemployed young people at an average cost of R37 000 a job.

He said the introduction of a youth wage subsidy, or the scrapping of VAT on books, would be alternative ways of spending the money.

In an open letter to Gana, NYDA CEO spokesman Stephen Ngubeni said: "The bulk of the people who need youth development interventions are out of school and have no cents to buy books, with or without VAT.

"Such a noble idea would be best proposed to the departments of Basic Education and Higher Education," Ngubeni said.

Another concern cited by the DA is that R187.5m of the NYDA budget is spent on the salaries of 363 staff members, amounting to an annual salary of more than half a million rand each.

The NYDA has disputed these allegations by the DA, and NYDA spokesman Siyabonga Magadla said: "We spent R139m on salaries for 433 employees. …