30 July 2013
Last Thursday the youth of South Africa awoke
to the disturbing news that the CEO of the National Youth
Development Agency (NYDA) Steven Ngubeni had been suspended with
immediate effect, without reasons being provided.
The absence of an official explanation opened
the floodgates of speculation, leaving us, the youth, in Queer
Street. The failure of the NYDA Board to take us into their
confidence and explain this drastic decision is frankly
It is yet another instance of dereliction of
Nonetheless, even without the benefit of an
explanation from the NYDA, I welcome the decision to suspend the
CEO and eagerly await the outcome of the investigation.
Millions of South Africa’s youth, rightly or
wrongly, warts and all, look to the NYDA for answers and
direction when it comes to youth development, as this is the
only body of government directly dealing with youth development.
Since 2009 the NYDA has been plagued by
scandal and chaos and has become an institution lacking
credibility and integrity. In 2010, aided and abetted by the ANC
Youth League, the NYDA splashed out R106 million on the now
infamous World Youth and Students Festival; expenditure which
the IFP Youth Brigade asked the Public Protector to investigate.
Under Ngubeni, the NYDA quickly earned itself a
tattered image. Millions of young South Africans bear the brunt
of this extraordinary failure.
Now fresh allegations have surfaced against
the NYDA Board Chairman, Yershen Pillay. This should mark a
turning point in the debate on just how youth development should
be structured and where it should be housed.
Since 1997 the IFP Youth Brigade has been
calling for the creation of a National Youth Department, with a
fully-fledged Ministry, to operate in all three spheres of
Government. On 13 November 2004 we sent a memorandum to the
Presidency calling for the establishment of a Ministry of Youth
Affairs. Nine years on, we still await a reply.
Successive IFP Youth Brigade Conferences have
repeatedly resolved that a Youth Ministry is a priority if we
are to make serious headway in addressing the key challenges
facing the youth, particularly unemployment. In 2011, it seemed
the penny finally dropped when the ANC Youth League echoed this
resolution at its congress. But nothing has happened.
The disjointed manner in which youth
development is being handled is shameful, destroying the dreams,
hopes and aspirations of young South Africans. Even Parliament
lacks a committee to deal with youth matters. The so-called
“Youth Parliament” is a once-a-year money-wasting talk shop.
Surely the youth of this country deserve
better than the current ad hoc approach to our collective
development. Youth development deserves the same treatment as
women's development, which is prioritised through a dedicated
Department, a parliamentary Portfolio Committee and a
Multi-Party Women’s Caucus.
In contrast, the NYDA squats in the Department
of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. Oversight is
disorganised and peripheral, as the NYDA’s budget allocation
comes out of the Presidency Vote 1, but its spending is
monitored in Parliament’s Vote 6. The absence of a Portfolio
Committee on the Presidency compounds the problem.
In all this chaos, the youth is left waiting.
The sacrifices of our past and the challenges
of today should spur us into action to improve the lives of
South Africa’s youth, who are hit hardest by each and every
failure. We owe it the memory of the youth of 1976, to the youth
of 2013 and the youth of tomorrow to establish
the necessary institutions that will alleviate their plight and
guarantee a sustainable livelihood.
The creation of a Youth Ministry would be a
good place to start.
Contact: IFP National Chairperson, Mr Mkhuleko
Hlengwa MP, 083 871 2711