Cost of world youth festival was R100m, says NYDA

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has revealed that the true cost of hosting the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students was in excess of R100-million.

The nine-day festival, held in December last year, was plagued by organisational troubles — several high-profile speakers originally billed to attend the event failed to show up and there were problems with catering, accommodation and transport.

Earlier estimates for the cost of hosting the event — which brought together 15 000 youths from 126 countries under the theme “Let’s defeat imperialism for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation” — were R69-million.

But the NYDA maintains that these estimates were the result of the media being “quick to report on the figures” while the agency was still busy fundraising.

Speaking at a press conference held at the NYDA headquarters in Midrand on Tuesday morning, chairperson Andile Lungisa said the agency remains “convinced that the funds spent on the festival — could not have been spent otherwise”.

How funds were spent
A breakdown of expenditure showed that travel and accommodation (R24,5-million) and catering (R29,9-million) made up the bulk of the cost involved in hosting the festival. Entertainment costs contributed an additional R9,4-million to the price tag.

The NYDA received most of its funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, which committed to providing R40-million, and the government, which provided an additional R29-million.

It also received R3-million in funding from the Department of Arts and Culture, R1,8-million from the Department of Communications, and R5,5-million from provinces. Various municipalities provided “small amounts” averaging about R10 000. The agency said registration fees provided an additional R2,3-million while R17-million came from other funders.

Steven Ngubeni, the NYDA’s CEO, said R7,2-million was yet to be paid to nine service providers.

Tying up loose ends
The agency has prepared a report on the festival, which it is to present to Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane and other funders on Tuesday. In addition, it will report to Parliament on matters concerning the NYDA next week.

Ngubeni said the agency is confident that its reporting is in order and that its figures are “rock solid”. He said he believes issues around the festival can now be brought to closure.

The NYDA said it would continue to roll out legacy programmes, including a free education campaign and a programme to distribute sanitary towels to young women, and that further legacy projects would be confirmed “in due course”.

Lungisa also maintained that the benefits of the festival could also be seen in events unfolding on the African content, from Egypt to Tunisia, where festival participants were “leading from the front in the campaign for democracy in their respective countries”.

“We are not saying it’s a result of the festival. What we are simply saying is that young people who attended the festival in South Africa, they are at the forefront. In fact, there were no protests before the festival, the only protests were after the festival. You must make your own conclusions,” he said.

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Faranaaz Parker
Faranaaz Parker is a reporter for the Mail & Guardian. She writes on everything from pop science to public health, and believes South Africa needs carbon taxes and more raging feminists. When she isn't instagramming pictures of her toddler or obsessively checking her Twitter, she plays third-person shooters on Xbox Live.

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