Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Still no board for NYDA, no word on gender violence fund

Parliament’s portfolio committee on women, youth and persons with disabilities and the select committee on health and social services met on Tuesday for their opening meeting for 2021. On the agenda? Unresolved issues from 2019. 

No reference was made to the widely welcomed Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, which will assist both committees’ operations. The committees are still caught up in a controversy regarding a July 2019 request to constitute a board for the National Youth Development Agency  (NYDA) — the presidential vehicle for youth in South Africa. 

Allegations of political interference

Following a request from the speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, in July 2019 to put together a board for the NYDA, the subcommittee managed to compile a final list of seven candidates on 4 August 2020, a year later. 

But the list was met with opposition. Out of the 30 candidates who were shortlisted from more than 600 applications, seven made the final list, leaving few options to choose from. 

The daughter of former president Jacob Zuma, Thuthukile Zuma, and the previous NYDA board chair, who was appointed by Zuma, Sifiso Mtsweni, were on the list.

Last year the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) voiced its concern, claiming the shortlisting process has been jeopardised by political patronage. It argued that “strong allegations have surfaced, which suggests the NYDA selection process is being conducted in favour of ANC national youth task team’s preferences”. 

The South Africa Youth Chamber of Commerce (SAYCC) also wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa — the board’s final appointing authority — urging him to intervene in the matter.  The SAYCC alleged most candidates were pre-selected before the official process started. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) objected to the candidate list, saying: “We are of the view that the majority of the candidates are politically compromised and have been installed by the ANC members of the committee.”

Three months after the list was made public, TimesLive reported the National Assembly speaker was “taking advice on the process followed by parliamentary committees” and that the process followed in choosing an NYDA board and its outcome “is being challenged legally.”

Selection process to start over

This week, the speaker’s advice tabled in November last year was tabled again and yielded no better results. “Given the number of complaints received, the gravity of the allegations and the potential reputational risk to the image of parliament and its processes, the committee should consider and respond to these factual allegations to address or remedy any potential risk,” Modise said.

Siviwe Njikela, a senior parliamentary legal adviser in parliament, briefly referred to the complaints, saying they included issues of transparency and openness, candidates showing the domination of a particular political party and a lack of geographic spread. Njikela labelled the complaints as factual allegations, which cannot be substantiated, and concluded the board selection process must start over. 

Maurencia Gillion, the select committee’s chair, gave her assurance that “this subcommittee did everything to the letter. We had our legal experts with us during the whole process, but let’s start afresh. Let’s give ourselves a timeline of two to three months that we must finish this process as soon as possible so that we can give the NYDA the necessary time to do their job.”

The majority of representatives welcomed the decision to start over. The Economic Freedom Fighter’s Nokulunga Primrose Sonti said the process must be honest: “The demographic must be balanced, and the process must be fair.” 

The DA’s spokesperson for women, youth and persons with disabilities, Luyolo Mphithi, who had objected to the candidate list, welcomed the speaker’s advice and said the concerns submitted around this process by young people across the country were valid.

After the meeting, opposition party Freedom Front Plus MP Tamarin Breedt said millions of rand had already been wasted by the parliamentary process to appoint a new board and has yet to deliver anything. She argued that the NYDA in its entirety “needs to be done away with”.

Breedt added that while this new process is underway no concrete plan has yet been announced on how the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Response Fund will be made available, nor how the initial National Strategic Plan in fighting gender-based violence will be implemented.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Local elections: Water tops the agenda in Limpopo’s dry villages

People in the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, who have to collect water from Motse River, are backing independent candidates because they’re tired of parties’ election promises

Careers the Zondo state capture inquiry has ended (or not)

From Vincent Smith to Gwede Mantashe, those named and shamed have met with differing fates

More top stories

Nigeria’s palm wine tappers face stiff competition

Large companies such as International Breweries and Nigerian Breweries are vying for the population’s drinking money

Covid-19 border closures hit Zimbabwe’s women traders hard

The past 18 months have been tough for women cross-border traders, who saw their income vanish when borders closed

Local elections: Water tops the agenda in Limpopo’s dry villages

People in the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, who have to collect water from Motse River, are backing independent candidates because they’re tired of parties’ election promises

A bigger slice of the pie: Retailers find ways to...

The South African informal economy market is much sought-after, with the big, formal-sector supermarkets all looking to grow their share
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×