Kissing festival still owed R18m

07 August 2011 - 05:00 By THABO MOKONE

The National Youth Development Agency is seeking nearly R18-million from provinces and municipalities that promised to support the chaotic international youth festival last December but failed to pay.

This amount is over and above the R100-million forked out by the National Lotteries Board and national government.

The startling revelation is contained in the NYDA's report on the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students which was tabled before parliament by Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, this week.

The report says the NYDA is "desperately" chasing R17.8-million in outstanding financial pledges from several provincial governments and municipalities.

Andile Lungisa, the executive chairman of the NYDA, said on Friday only a few provinces and municipalities, which he refused to name, were yet to honour their commitments.

"People with monies that were not paid have (now) paid, there's only a few who are yet to do so ... they know themselves," he said.

The agency came under fire last year when it came to light that it had received R29-million from the government to host the week-long festival. It turned out to be a chaotic jamboree, with delegates seen playing kissing games and drinking alcohol.

There was more public outrage when it was revealed that the lotteries board had sponsored the "kissing festival" to the tune of R40-million while needy charities were battling to get funding.

The festival's long-awaited report appeared to confirm the gathering, attended by 15000 young people from socialist countries around the world, was little more than a fiesta. It shows the NYDA splurged R9-million on sound equipment, R24-million on travel and accommodation and R29-million on food and drink. A further R18-million was spent on advertising, goody bags and entertainment.