No board for youth agency just yet, as parliament has not approved report

Outstanding security reports on six board candidates for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) have hampered yet another attempt by parliament’s portfolio committee on women, youth and persons with disabilities to finalise the list by Thursday.

Efforts to compile a list of candidates for the NYDA — a presidential vehicle for youth in South Africa — date back to July 2019, when parliament first received the request to constitute a board.  

After allegations of political interference in 2020, National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise told the committee earlier this year to begin the selection process from scratch. 

On Thursday, a day after the subcommittee adopted a report consisting of 17 candidates for the NYDA, the portfolio committee called a halt to the process.

Six of the 17 candidates have outstanding security reports from the State Security Agency. Although three of the six received negative clearance reports, this does not immediately eliminate them from the list. Portfolio members have requested clarity on their reports because two relate to fraud and one to allegations of public violence. 

Maurencia Gillion, the subcommittee chairperson who approved the report on Wednesday, asked the committee to adopt the report, but with amendments.

However, members of the portfolio committee were not convinced of the wisdom of accepting the report before applying due diligence. 

Democratic Alliance spokesperson for women, youth and people with disabilities Luyolo Mphithi asked why the committee was “rushing to submit a report that is not completed”, saying that if it was their responsibility to complete the report, then they must do so.

Herman Tembe, a legal adviser in parliament, was of the opinion that the report “must be fit and proper” with “no gaps” before being sent to the president, who will make the final decision on who serves on the NYDA board. 

Siviwe Njikela, a senior parliamentary legal adviser, told the committee about the pitfalls of submitting candidates to the president without the assurance of their status.

“We find ourselves in circumstances where we are saying six security reports are outstanding. We have no way of knowing what the outcome of those will be,” Njikela said.

“So the risk now is if the reports come back negative — say three or four of them are negative — your list [of candidates] is going to come down to 13 names. It affects the geographical spread. It affects the overall representativity.”

Committee chairperson Claudia Nonhlanhla Ndaba concluded that it would request that the office of the speaker assist in fast-tracking completion of the security reports on the outstanding candidates. 

She said the three candidates with allegations of fraud and public violence levied against them must appear before the committee to clarify the issues.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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