How to waste a billion rand

The NYDA recently requested a colossal budget. Yet its past performance hardly inspires confidence.

Almost a year ago the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) embarked on a campaign in which they collected CVs from young graduates across the country. The idea, the agency claimed, was to use these to provide people with jobs – by placing the information on its database so that companies could access job seekers’ names there.

I criticised this modus operandi and was indignantly informed, via a three-page letter, that the campaign had yielded more than a thousand jobs. No proof of these jobs was provided, however. I still ask: how many young graduates are currently employed as a result of your campaign, Mr NYDA CEO?

The agency has failed to convince me that it has had a significant impact on youth’s lives since its Umsobomvu years. It recently requested a R1 billion budget from government, yet it cannot tell us why it has to have the money. It has yet to account for wasting over R100 million on the infamous ‘kissing party’, the World Festival of Youth and Students event that took place in Pretoria at the end of 2010.

Who would give a billion rand to people who believe they don’t need to explain themselves to anyone? Where do they think the money they are requesting comes from? This is taxpayers’ money. The only justification given for the massive waste of money of the youth festival was that other countries also host these events and South African youths are invited. Well, that might be true, but do these countries have the same youth unemployment problems as South Africa? Statistics suggest that 73% of young people under the age of 35 in our country are unemployed.

Perhaps I’m being unfair, but after meeting many aspiring young business people, I haven’t found one who has been helped by the NYDA. Other government agencies have at least managed to assist a few people. The National Development Agency (NDA), for example, helped to launch the Super Grand co-operative, a group of six young people who now employ a staff of 30, youngsters like themselves.

‘Stop the NYDA’
A recent social media campaign and a petition to have the NYDA disbanded confirm what I’ve always said: this agency is not performing its duties, and something drastic needs to be done. A group called ‘Stop the NYDA’ was created on Facebook on
21 May by motivational speaker and businessman Vusi Thembekwayo and already has nearly 1 400 fans. Disbanding the NYDA and forming another body free of politicians such as those in the ANCYL would be a positive move.

Even Steve Mokwena, the first CEO of the National Youth Commission, seems to agree. He wrote recently that the ANC knows the NYDA is ineffectual and wasteful. “The NYDA, like its predecessor (Umsobomvu), is a sideshow created to pacify political youth,” he explained. Mokwena added that the agency’s structure, complete with its own bureaucracy, makes it think and behave like a badly run non-governmental organisation. It takes away money and attention from real programmes, alienating the very people it is supposed to serve.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!