IFPYB - South African Youth Are Not Taken Seriously

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 unacceptable.


It is yet another instance of dereliction of accountability.


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