R40-million Lotto funding for youth festival

The bulk of the funding for the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students will come from a R40-million grant from the national lottery, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) said on Thursday.

Hosting the event would cost R69-million, of which R40-million would be contributed by the national lottery, NYDA executive chairperson Andile Lungisa told reporters at the agency’s headquarters in Midrand.

The balance of R29-million had been promised by the government.

Lungisa said none of the funding for the festival, which was expected to start on December 13, would come from the coffers of the NYDA.

“There will be no tampering with the NYDA budget.”

Apart from the funding received from the lottery and the presidency, Lungisa said some companies had provided services towards the festival.

The event was originally meant to be held in Johannesburg at an estimated cost of R340-million, but was subsequently moved to Pretoria to cut costs. About 30 000 people were expected to attend. They would all be accommodated at the Tshwane University of Technology.

The hosting of the festival has come in for criticism from opposition parties, especially the Democratic Alliance (DA), which said it was “astonished” that the presidency had granted R29-million to host the nine-day student festival, themed “Let’s defeat imperialism”.

“The NYDA is a public entity, mandated to act in an impartial manner, to advance the interests of all of South Africa’s youth,” DA Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said recently.

The DA’s federal youth leader Makashule Gana called on the National Lotteries Board to withdraw the R40-million funding for the festival.

In a statement, he said the money was being wasted on a “totalitarians-in-training” conference when it should be used on charities.

“Never should our charities have to compete with political opportunists for their rightful funding.
The Let’s defeat imperialism conference answers none of the needs of South African youth, nor will it promote job opportunities or skills training to the unemployed. It will simply allow members of the most anti-democratic youth leagues in the world, from Zimbabwe to North Korea, to network,” he said.

The World Festival of Youth and Students has previously been held in Pyongyang, North Korea; Havana, Cuba; and Caracas, Venezuela.

Member parties who made up the event include the Zanu-PF Youth League from Zimbabwe, and the youth league of the Workers’ Party of North Korea.

Comment could not immediately be obtained from the National Lotteries Board. According to its website it is required to distribute 45% of its funds to charities, 22% to arts, culture and national heritage and 5% for miscellaneous purposes.—Sapa

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