Youth development agency's board appointments hit snags

A portfolio committee and a select committee have jointly recommended names of seven youths to serve on the NYDA board.
A portfolio committee and a select committee have jointly recommended names of seven youths to serve on the NYDA board.
Image: GCIS

National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise is taking advice on the process followed by parliamentary committees that were selecting candidates for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) board.

Modise has revealed that both the process followed and its outcome are being challenged legally, and she has to satisfy herself that proper processes were followed.

This comes three weeks after the National Assembly's portfolio committee on women, youth and persons with disabilities and the National Council of Provinces' select committee on health and social services jointly recommended names of seven youths to serve on the agency's board.

The names have to be adopted by the sitting of the two houses before they are referred to President Cyril Ramaphosa for appointment. The president is the appointing authority.

With only a week before parliament rises for a month-long break, the matter has not been scheduled according to the latest published parliamentary programme.

Former president Jacob Zuma and Cogta minister  Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's daughter Thuthukile, 31, has been shortlisted. She will be joined by Karabo Mohale, Paballo Ponoane, Molaoli Sekake, Lukhona Afrika Mnguni, Avela Mjajubana and John Sifiso Mtsweni, who chaired the previous board until its term lapsed this year.

Asked by EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi about this, Modise told a meeting of the assembly's programme committee that while the joint committee has concluded its work and drafted a report, there were challenges to the outcome and the process.

Six of the seven recommended board members are aligned to the ANC, a fact that has raised questions of fairness and possible political bias.

A leaked letter addressed to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, signed by ANC National Youth Task Team convener Tandi Mahambehlala and which listed recommended names for the board, also strengthened the suspicions of political interference. The DA's Luyolo Mphithi said the letter was proof that the final recommendations for the NYDA board were predetermined by the governing party.

“It's true that the committee has reported on this matter. They have concluded their work but there are challenges which are legal,” said Modise. “I have not reached any conclusion because I still have to get advice on it, because I want to be satisfied that in fact, what the committee did, from start to finish, was correct and cannot be attacked as it is being challenged.

“So, we want to just be satisfied that we are on top of things ... it's just that there are interesting challenges to the outcome and the process,” she added.

Modise said there will also be a general discussion around the NYDA. She did not expand about the details of such a discussion.

The NYDA was established primarily to tackle challenges faced by the youth.

With a total budget of R545m — of which 37% is spent on salaries — and the power to dispense project money, it is a highly contested agency.

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