The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) briefed the Committee on its fourth quarterly report for 2019/20 and first quarterly report for 2020/21. While the overall achievement in the fourth quarter had been 100%, the first quarter performance had reached only 17% due to the Covid-19 lockdown, as most of the programmes had had to be halted.
Members questioned why there had been over-expenditure on the National Youth Service (NYS), how unsuccessful applicants to the youth relief fund were assisted by the NYDA, and how many relief fund recipients were females and people with disabilities. They asked why there was a low uptake of the youth relief fund in some provinces, and why the NYDA had purchased COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) at higher prices than those recommended by the National Treasury. Members pointed out discrepancies in actual expenditure figures and those shown in the annual performance plan, and asked for clarity. They questioned why capital expenditure was not spent, the criteria that were used to assess youth relief fund applicants, and sought clarity on aspects of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) programme. They asked why there was under-spending on research and policy, and wanted to know about the challenges the NYDA encountered and how informal businesses were being assisted. Members questioned how the NYDA had been involved in the drafting of the national youth policy, the impediments of not having a board, and whether they had met with the Communications Department, as had been recommended at the previous meeting. The NYDA was also advised to categorise its data according to gender, location and people living with disabilities.
The Chairperson reported back on gender-based violence (GBV) encountered during a recent oversight visit, and said the increased number of GBV cases during the COVID-19 lockdown was a serious cause of concern. It was important to unite as political parties to address these issues. The complaints by community members regarding police officers and civil servants was not a fallacy or a myth, but a reality that needed to be addressed. Members recommended that a national meeting be held with a common theme of social cohesion. This would provide an opportunity to reflect and reassert South African core values.
Report on oversight visit
The Chairperson welcomed Members and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to the meeting. She and Ms T Mgweba (ANC) had gone on an oversight visit during the past weekend to address issues of gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide. They had driven to Tsakane with representatives from health and social services, councillors and other community leaders.
They had visited the home of Ms Khabonina, an elderly woman brutally beaten by a young boy. A video of this incident had been circulating on social media. During the oversight visit, Ms Khabonina had explained that she had worked as a domestic worker for the young boy’s family for 22 years. She had started working for the family when the children were still three and five years old. The abuse had started after the President announced the level 5 lockdown. The now 27-year-old boy started abusing her verbally, but Ms Khabonina had not taken it seriously at the time. After the President announced the unbanning of cigarettes and alcohol, the boy drank excessively and had brutally beaten her. He had uttered racial slurs while beating her. Ms Khabonina had attempted to call the police, but the boy’s father had taken away her phone and destroyed it. The father was a doctor, and he too was insulting her. She had tried to defend herself, and the father held her hands and prevented her from doing so. The other child in the family had helped her and took her to bedroom, as she was bleeding. The father and son had come with guns. With the help of the other child, Ms Khabonina was able to find the keys to the house and escape. Security guards had found her on the street, and she had relayed to them what had happened. The security guards called the police, who then were able to arrest the boy. Ms Khabonina was taken to Pholosong hospital, but was not given quality health care. EFF members had intervened and taken her to a private doctor, where she was given the relevant treatment.
While Ms Khabonina relayed what had happened to her to the Chairperson and other members, a police detective had arrived and demanded that Ms Khabonina come to the police station for an official statement. The detective was rude, and did not acknowledge the Chairperson and other members who were present at Ms Khabonina’s home. The Chairperson and other members left and allowed the detective to capture the statement. However, they later established that the detective had only captured the statement a day after the visit. The Ministry of Public Service and Administration (PSA) and the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) had been brought on board to investigate this case from a racial injustice perspective.
The Chairperson and Ms Mgweba had also conducted an oversight visit at the Tsakane police station. The visit was to address an incident where a woman was hit by a car in front of the police station. It was important to understand what the police were doing to address this incident. There was no order at the police station, and the police captain had been reluctant to have a meeting with the Chairperson and other members. The captain appeared as though he had been drinking. The Chairperson and other members went back to police station the following day and met with the station commander. It was agreed that detectives would visit Limpopo to get statements, as that was where the woman resided. The driver of the car was arrested.
The Chairperson and Ms Mgweba had also attended the cases concerning young girls who were being sold to Somalians for R400, and a young girl from Wits University who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend.
Ms Mgweba and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) would work with police stations to ensure that these cases were dealt with accordingly. They would brief and provide a full report to the Committee. Issues of GBV and femicide needed to be taken very seriously. Complaints from community members regarding the police and civil workers were not a fallacy or myth, but a reality. It was critical to do oversight visits to understand what was happening on the ground. It was also important to follow up at police stations to ensure that these cases were addressed accordingly. Women and families of women who had experienced GBV must be fully supported.
Ms Mgweba commented that the Chairperson had related the activities of the weekend very well.
Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, said GBV in South Africa had become cyclical. Cases of GBV increased during the lockdown, and this undermined all the good work and progress that had been made towards fighting GBV. She reiterated the words of the President, and recommended that a national meeting be held with all counterparts with the main theme of social cohesion. The Committee had a responsibility to address the needs of vulnerable people in society. However, there was no additional funding towards this cause, and that posed a challenge. The proposed national meeting would provide an opportunity to reassert South Africa’s core values. Citizens believed that wrongdoers had more rights than those that followed the law, and that belief was problematic. It was attributed to the in-depth emphasis on rights, rather than on responsibilities. This national meeting was needed and long overdue. South Africa was confronted with a crisis, so Members could not just address their mandate, but had a responsibility to review other issues of concern. GBV was back with a vengeance, and Members must continue working towards addressing this.
It was also important to provide women with access to finance. Small credit facilities for women could assist them in creating and expanding opportunities for themselves. Women were known to be good credit payers, so this would be a good initiative for them. Strength lay in the unity of Members and in action.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for her remarks, and all the political parties that had joined her during the oversight visit. There was unity among all the political parties, and this reaffirmed that a lot could be achieved when there was unity in fighting for a common cause.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane provided a pre-briefing of the ongoing work of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
Despite the challenges and limitations posed by COVID-19, the Department and the Agency were continuously working to serve young people in South Africa. The NYDA had been an invaluable partner in the national youth policy review process. They had committed human, intellectual and financial resources to the development of the draft policy. The policy was being consulted and had opened a window for the youth to participate so that their voices could be heard. Once approved, the youth policy would be a strong advocacy tool to ensure mainstreaming of youth development, and this would assist to effectively deal with challenges faced by youth and to harness their potential, skills and talents.
The Department had commenced with the amendment of its Act no 54 of 2008. This amendment served to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department. The amendment was part of the legislative programme for the year. The NYDA had supported this process. The bill would be introduced to the cluster system, and undergo robust public participation.
She commended the Committee that had been appointed to oversee the process of appointing the NYDA board. The Committee had done this in a transparent manner and under difficult circumstances. She was looking forward to concluding the process, as this would bring stability to the NYDA. The current acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the NYDA submitted monthly reports to the Ministry and the Department. The CEO also reported all transactions above R500 000. The NYDA CEO and new director of the Department had met recently, and would be working together in advancing the interests of young people. She commended the CEO for the good work he continued to do.
During COVID-19, the NYDA had worked on the Youth Micro Enterprise Relief Fund, supporting food securities for vulnerable communities through youth non-governmental organizations (NGOs), supporting young people with access to other relief funds, and the “1 000 Businesses in 100 Days” project. The NYDA would be publicly disclosing the list of all the beneficiaries awarded. A list of all personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases and awardees would also be disclosed.
The NYDA would be opening branches to young people for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) applications from 1 September. Last year, 120 000 young people were registered for the NSFAS through NYDA centres. Measures would be put in place to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols. The Agency would continue to work with all government institutions and young people on the economic recovery plan during and after COVID-19 to ensure that young people were prioritised and supported by the government.
The Minister asked that she be excused to attend another meeting with the President.
Deputy Minister input
Prof H Mkhize, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, appreciated the presentation from the NYDA and the report on the recommended board. It was important to ensure that the process was transparent. She endorsed Ms Nkoana-Mashabane’s pre-briefing. She requested that there be an opportunity to meet with the NYDA before they presented to the Committee. There was an issue of aggregated data in the NYDA presentation. In future, data should be categorised according to gender, location and people with disabilities. This would assist in ensuring that those who had been left behind were brought to the fore.
She had visited Sedibeng to meet with young people with disabilities. The young people had told her that they were not taken seriously in society, due to their disabilities. She highlighted that young people with disabilities were educated and skilled, and therefore must not be left behind. Categorising the data would provide the Committee with a holistic overview. She asked the NYDA what the communication strategy and criteria were for the NSFAS applications. The CEO should clarify what was overseen by the Department and the President’s office.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) highlighted that the Minister had had to leave early at previous meetings, so Members were not able to pose questions to her. The role of the Committee was to provide oversight of the executive, so it was important to be able to pose questions to the Minister. When would the Minister be able to answer questions from Members?
Prof Mkhize suggested that the Parliamentary liaison officer facilitate Mr Mphithi’s request.
The Chairperson agreed to take it upon herself to facilitate Mr Mphithi’s request. She would provide feedback to the Committee.
NYDA: 4th Quarterly Report 2019/20; 1st Quarterly Report 2020/21
Mr Waseem Carrim, Chief Executive Officer (CEO): NYDA, and Mr Thamsanqa Mkhwanazi, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), took the Committee through the presentation, providing insights on the situational analysis, the Youth Micro Enterprise Relief Fund, the “1000 businesses in 100 days” project, the quarterly performance reports and the quarterly financial information.
A summary of performance for the fourth quarter of 2019/20 indicated that of the 23 key performance areas (KPAs) that the NYDA had, 11 were met and 12 were met and exceeded. The overall achievement was 100%. In the first quarter of 2020/21, performance achievement was sitting at 17%. This was as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, which had hindered the operations of the Agency, as most of the programmes’ implementation had had to be stopped.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) reflected on the Chairperson’s opening remarks, commenting that the Committee had a duty to follow up on the challenges faced by community members. The GBV cases reported on the news and social media were very disturbing. There were often discussions on the interventions that the government had put in place to respond to GBV cases. However, when visiting the police stations and courts, processes were different and not according to the interventions outlined. It was therefore important to perform oversight, as this gave clarity and a better understanding of how things were working on the ground. It provided an opportunity to identify and address the shortcomings and loopholes in the system. This would assist in ensuring that women were fully assisted and protected.
She commended the NYDA team for keeping the ship afloat and continuously working towards addressing youth issues, despite the absence of a board and the challenges posed by COVID-19. She praised the NYDA team for meeting 11 of the Q4 2019/20 targets. However, she observed that the Q3 2019/20 targets had not been met, and asked how the NYDA had dealt with those unmet targets. Also, what were the financial implications of the rollover? Had the targets eventually been met in Q4? She asked why there had been over-expenditure on the National Youth Service (NYS) programme in Q4. There had been significantly less spending on research and policy -- why was that the case? Additionally, what had the satisfaction survey revealed? She asked what the outcomes of the stakeholder engagement plan on government-wide priorities had been.
It was commendable that the NYDA had met targets in Q1 2020/21. She noted that a fraction of applicants had been awarded support from the youth micro enterprise relief fund, so what assistance had been given to those who were unsuccessful? Of the applicants that were successful, how many were businesses owned by women and people with disabilities? Why had there been a small uptake in certain provinces, such as the North West and Northern Cape? How many businesses owned by women and people with disabilities had been awarded contracts for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)? Lastly, why were contracts awarded to businesses that quoted above the given Treasury regulations?
Mr Mphithi reflected on the Chairperson’s opening remarks, and said it was saddening that these events continued to happen. It was important to move away from the element of talking and having meetings, and to really engage these issues through action-based recommendations and mechanisms. Police officers were disengaged with issues that the public brought to them, so much work was needed to address this issue. He pointed out that in the Q4 2019/20 report, there was a clear variance between the APP presentation and the actual expenditure, and asked what the reason for this was. The forecast capex of R18 million had gone down to R13 million -- what was the reason for that?
He thanked Mr Carrim for assisting with the disbursement of funds for a relief fund recipient that had had issues with receiving funds. At the previous meeting, the issue of delayed disbursements had been highlighted. This issue was attributed to verification that needed to take place prior to disbursements. There was an increase in the number of young people that had received funds, but what challenges were identified with the disbursement of funds? What were the bottlenecks in the process of receiving the funds? He commented that informal businesses were not able to receive funds, as they were not registered and had no bank records. Therefore, what measures had been put in place to support and assist young people with informal businesses, taking into consideration the issue of verification?
The NYDA had previously stated that they were a stakeholder in the consolidation of the national youth policy, so what had been their role and type of involvement in the consolidation thus far? He observed that the NYDA had data and information pertaining to young people, and this data was useful and could assist with the policy. The Agency had previously struggled in bringing forth the voices and input of young people in drafting the policy. The previous engagement with young people had not been adequate in drawing from their experiences. How was the NYDA trying to close that gap with the new public engagement process with the youth? What was going to be different about the new public engagement? At the previous meeting, Members had been informed that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other youth organisations were involved in the policy, but these organisations had said they had not received communication in this regard. He commended the NYDA for the improved communication, noting that he had seen an increase in communications and publicly announcing fund recipients. He asked what impediments and challenges the NYDA had faced due to the absence of a board.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) addressed the meeting in the vernacular.
The Chairperson said she would arrange a call with Mr Carrim to go and see where young people were doing farming, and to address the issues raised by Ms M Khawula. She said the NYDA had the potential to ensure that young people were assisted. She would discuss with Mr Carrim on which issue should be addressed immediately, while other issues were still being looked into. It was easier to address issues when there was adequate information, as the relevant departments could be referred to.
Ms Mgweba welcomed the input and opening remarks of the Minister and Prof Mkhize. She commended the NYDA for its work. Referring to the presentation, she asked why there was a difference of almost R26 million between the total budget that was presented to the Committee in the annual performance plan (APP) and in the Q4 2019/20 presentation. There was also over-expenditure on the National Youth Service (NYS). The budget was R35 million at the start of 2019/20, according to the APP budget, but in the Q4 2019/20 presentation it was R23 million, representing R12 million less -- what was the reason for this? She asked when the NYDA was going to present the government wide priorities to the Committee, especially for Q1 2010/21.
Lastly, she asked why the NYDA had purchased PPE at higher prices than was recommended by the National Treasury. According to the Treasury pricelist, aprons were to be purchased at R170 for a box of 100, sanitisers at R46.37 for 500ml, and surgical gloves at R138 for a box of 100. However, the NYDA had purchased these for R290, R74.17 and R270 respectively.
The Chairperson said she had also noted the NYDA had purchased PPE at higher prices than recommended by the National Treasury. Mr Carrim needed to provide an explanation for this.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) asked about the recommendations that had previously been made by the Committee to the NYDA. It had advised the NYDA to meet with the Department of Communications and Technology to discuss issues pertaining to technology, infrastructure and connectivity. He asked if the NYDA had managed to do this. The Committee had also recommended that the NYDA work with the Department of Sports to address issues related to artists -- had the NYDA been able to do this? Lastly, how many businesses owned by young people with disabilities had been recipients of the youth relief fund?
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) thanked the Chairperson for her opening remarks and for attending to the cases. Her report had been very touching and sensitive. She appreciated the unity between the parties in addressing these issues. She asked the NYDA to be speedy in assisting the youth and young people with disabilities in terms of work and according to their needs. Their parents had taken them to universities, but afterwards they sat at home with no employment. She asked the NYDA for clarity about support for agriculture, noting that agriculture was important and could provide food security for people. Lastly, she asked for guidance on the NSFAS applications.
Ms T Masondo (ANC) apologised for her non-attendance of the oversight visit that the Chairperson and other Members had gone to. She commended the Chairperson for the work that she and other Members had done during the visit. She referred to the youth relief fund, noting that the youth from the Sikunda region had been able to get funding. The government had bought a large farm and taken the youth to the school of agriculture so that they could utilise the farm. She recommended that other provinces adopt that initiative by grouping young people in tens and registering them for the programme. There were no questions for the NYDA, except to commend them for their work. Other provinces were experiencing a backlog in assisting the youth, but Mpumalanga had made good strides in this area.
Mr Carrim and Mr Mkhwanazi, responded to the Members’ questions as follows:
How were the Q3 targets met in Q4?
A catch-up plan was devised with the different divisions to ensure that targets were met in Q4. Some targets were actually exceeded in Q4.
Over expenditure on NYS
The NYDA received more donor funds than had been budgeted for. The additional funds had allowed for the additional spending.
Assistance to unsuccessful applicants for the youth relief fund
There were limited funds. A budget of R10 million had been allocated to the fund, and over 6 000 applications were received. The NYDA was able to assist only 1 000 applicants. The NYDA was working on other partnerships so that they could continue assisting more young people.
How many relief fund recipients were females and people with disability?
The NYDA would revise the report to include these numbers and resubmit them to the Committee.
Why was the uptake lower in other provinces?
Applications were assessed on a first come, first served basis. This was why there were higher numbers in active provinces.
COVID-19 PPE procurement
The prices of PPE were dependent on the type that was purchased. The NYDA had purchased branded cloth masks, and these were more expensive than the type that was specified by the National Treasury. It was important to brand the masks so that staff could be recognised and identified with the NYDA. There were also different types of gloves. The NYDA would revise the report to include justifications for each item that was above the stipulated National Treasury price, and resubmit them to the Portfolio Committee. The revised report would list the regulated price, what was spent, and provide justification for the higher spending.
Variance between APP presentation and actual expenditure
The NYDA had received more donor funds than was budgeted for. The additional funds allowed for the additional spending.
Why was the capex not spent?
The capex was not spent because of the lockdown. The NYDA was also cautious of not spending because of the anticipating budget cuts. However, going forward the Committee would see spending on capex.
Criteria used to assess youth relief fund applicants
No specific criteria were used. Applications were assessed on a case by case and rolling basis. A form needed to be filled in by the applicants to describe the type of business and type of assistance needed. The funds were not awarded according to demographic factors.
Clarity on NSFAS
A WhatsApp chat line had been set up by NSFAS so that young people could easily get information about the application process and criteria.
Underspending on research and policy
Funding had been set aside to assist the Department with consultation on the national youth policy, but due to the lockdown, these funds were not spent.
Outcomes of satisfaction surveys
This information would be included in next presentation.
Variance in capex
Some capex had been rolled over from the previous financial year. The rollover had been approved by National Treasury.
Challenges the NYDA encountered
The relief fund had been set up online, and this was a new process. The agency also had to balance working on the relief fund and the “1 000 businesses in 100 days project.” These projects were running concurrently, and hence meant a lot of work for the Agency. The NYDA was continuously assessing the causes of bottlenecks and working towards resolving them. Taxpayer funds were used for these projects, therefore compliance played an integral role in the disbursement of funds. The necessary checks had to be done prior to the approval of disbursements.
How were informal businesses assisted?
The NYDA encouraged formalisatation of businesses. It was difficult to assist businesses with no bank accounts. Informal businesses were often overlooked because of this. The NYDA had partnered with the revenue services and business development to assist informal businesses in becoming formal. When businesses were formal, they could be assisted with access to markets, purchasing stock and mentorship.
National youth policy
The NYDA had submitted detailed comments on the first draft of the policy. The previous policy was an unfunded mandate, and this had been a problem. This must not be the case with the new policy.
Impediments of not having a board
Absence of a board presented governance challenges. Boards provide an oversight structure over management. However, the Ministry, Office of the DG, legal staff and chief of staff were supportive, and assisted with all governance matters.
Difference between government priority report and quarterly outlook report
The government priority report was issued at the start of the planning cycle in September /October. It gave key indicators for youth development. The quarterly outlook report outlined the statistics, research work, the challenges encountered and possible solutions.
Difference in NYS expenditure
A donor had committed funds and then reduced them, hence the reduced expenditure.
Meeting with the Communications Department
The NYDA had met with the Communications Department. The issue of the high cost of data had been discussed. A plan was ongoing to deliver internet access to six million vulnerable households. There was another plan to put internet access centres within walking distance of 14 million vulnerable households.
Prof Mkhize thanked the NYDA for the presentation. There were benefits from the insights presented. She reflected on the Chairperson’s oversight visit, noting that critical oversight had been lacking. Members should not only follow reports, but should go on the ground and listen to community members. They had a responsibility to do oversight. The Department, through the youth division, made sure there was an extension to the national youth policy. She appealed to Members to provide information about young people who may have been left behind in this policy making. The deadline to receive comments was 31 August 2020. It was important to hear from all sectors. There had been improved communication during this process. It was important to use local radio stations and webinars for communication, although people in the rural areas may not have local radio stations to obtain information in their own languages. It would beneficial to organise bodies to relay information to people in the rural areas.
Pertaining to the drunken driving and accidents, the government could not prohibit people from drinking, but there would be critical monitoring of the new regime of legislation. Other countries had stringent measures on drunken driving, so South Africa must apply this and tighten the legislation. It was important to move stakeholders closer to areas where women’s rights were not observed in order to address the violations. She reiterated the President’s words of ensuring that there would be no corrupt practices, and making processes transparent. The NYDA must focus more on targets than on insights. She said the NYDA should expand the model that Ms Masondo reported on, to poorer districts, and provide young people with access to markets to ensure sustainability.
The Chairperson requested for a separate call with Ms Khawula, Ms Masiko, Ms Hlengwa, Mr Ngcobo and Mr Carrim to obtain approval for an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal.
Ms Masiko asked that the Chairperson write a formal statement and resolution based on her oversight visit. She reprimanded the NYDA for implementing a first come, first served basis for the youth relief fund. This must not be the approach to use in future, as there needed to be equitable distribution across all the provinces.
The meeting was adjourned.
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