An award-winning young farmer has added his voice to calls to disband the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which is in the news for allegedly wasting millions of rands of tax payers’ money.
William Maseka (32), the Limpopo agriculture department’s Best Young Farmer for 2010, told Farmer’s Weekly the NYDA has no significance to South African youth involved in agriculture.
Maseka, who farms with vegetables for the export market in Bochum near Polokwane, said that when he visited the agency’s offices to ask for financial help, he was told that they don’t cater for agricultural development as the sector is apparently “too risky”.
“They said they can only offer me support in the form of business cards,” he said. Mkashule Gana, leader of the DA’s youth league, and his counterpart at COPE, Nqaba Bhanga, have called on President Jacob Zuma to disband the agency.
They said its current leadership, mostly made up of ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members, had failed in its mandate and squandered taxpayers’ money.
Thomas Walters, DA spokesperson for agriculture and rural development in Gauteng, doesn’t believe that the agency had any positive impact on agriculture. “Rather than more youth getting access to an economic sector that has one of the highest ratios of job creation per economic growth percentage points, the sector is declining despite a growing population that needs to be fed, and which offers growing market possibilities,” he said.
He added that the agricultural colleges, where youth acquire necessary skills, are also in decline. “And by the Minister of Land Reform’s own admission, over 90% of land reform schemes, which should be an opportunity to expand agricultural enterprise, are failures,” he said.
“The NYDA is simply irrelevant to growing the agricultural sector and wastes money that can be used to expand agricultural colleges and extension services, let alone invest in security and law enforcement.”
Gana said in a statement that the NYDA is nothing but an ANCYL-sponsored jamboree designed to benefit ANCYL-aligned tenderpreneurs. “An agency tasked with advancing youth development should be beyond political influences and should focus its energies on assisting the multitude of unemployed young South Africans,” he said.
“The DA Youth has repeatedly implored the president to disband this farcical organisation, and for its budget to be directed to meaningful, tangible youth development programmes, such as introducing a youth wage subsidy or scrapping VAT on books.”
At the time of going to print, neither the ANCYL nor the NYDA had answered requests for comment. – Peter Mashala