NYDA wants budget more than doubled
Just under R400-million a year is nowhere near enough money for the National Youth Development Agency.
Its chairman, Andile Lungisa, told MPs yesterday that the agency would not fulfil all its goals unless it was allocated at least R950-million a year.
He told the ad-hoc committee responsible for appointing new members for the agency's board - Lungisa is seeking to serve again - that the agency had not received money from the fiscus when it was first set up through a merger between the National Youth Commission and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund in 2009.
"The new institution was never capitalised, it was never given even a cent. When we were appointed as a board, we had to use money that was part of the National Youth Commission and Umsobomvu Youth Fund to be able to take the new institution forward without any capital injection from the government," Lungisa said.
He pointed to an assessment by the Presidency shortly after the establishment of the youth body that suggested it needed almost R1-billion a year to operate effectively.
"If you [create] an institution such as the NYDA, you must be able to give it an injection of R950-million to be able to start. That money did not come forward. We have been operating at less than R400-million annually . we have been complaining to the government that there must be an injection," he said.
The youth agency has been in the spotlight mostly for the wrong reasons since it was established.
In December 2010, the agency organised a controversial youth festival, blowing R100-million to transport, accommodate and feed delegates from around the world. Some of the delegates passed the time at the festival kissing.
Lungisa acknowledged that 42% of the agency's budget was used to pay its staff and that a more realistic salary bill would be about 25% of the total budget.
He said the salary bill had been inflated by the intake of staff from the two entities that joined to form the NYDA.
"The money must go to programmes; the money can't pay Andile's salary. That's why I was comfortable with what I was paid by parliament.
"I never went and toyi-toyied and said, 'I need a bigger salary'. In fact, I'm paid like an ordinary South African, like a peasant," he said.
Lungisa earns about R700000 a year as chairman.
But there was an outcry when it emerged that the agency's CEO, Steve Ngobeni, received an annual package of R1.8-million.
Replying to a parliamentary question, Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said the agency employed at least 500 staff and had a R174-million annual salary bill. This amounted to at least R29000 a month for each staff member.
Another board hopeful told the ad-hoc committee she would push for salary cuts and a reduction in bonuses paid to staff members if she was given the nod.
Zandile Majozi, who is deputy chairman of the IFP's youth brigade, said it was unacceptable that the agency was spending so much on salaries. "It's a bit ridiculous to spend [that] on administration . we need to put that money into other programmes."