In a virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on its strategic plan, annual performance plan and budget for the 2022/23 financial year.
Committee Members expressed appreciation for the work done by the NYDA. They raised questions about the services it provided for young people with disabilities. They noted that some targets for the year had been doubled and asked how they would be achieved. They raised questions about donor funding and expressed concern about critical posts being vacant. Members also raised the lack of monitoring of mentorship programmes as an area of concern. They said it was important that the NYDA make information about its services more accessible to young people by using platforms such as WhatsApp.
The Chairperson said she was concerned about the extent of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) in the country. She used the example of Hillary Gardee, saying GBVF was affecting young women. She asked all stakeholders to work with local communities to address the matter. She hoped that law enforcement would take charge of these matters and find the perpetrators.
She hoped that the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) had plans for Youth Day in June. She thanked the NYDA for all the work they had done so far. She referred to allegations that the NYDA had been involved in building a R2.6 million RDP house. It had been accused of hiring the service provider and using the funds of the NYDA. The facts showed that NYDA had used R550 000 for a workplace training project. Although an apology had been issued by the municipal executive mayor, it was not specific as to what they were apologising for. The accusations affected the integrity and reputation of the NYDA. An appropriate apology should be issued. The Committee was satisfied that the certificates issued to trainees were from a credible institution, such as the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).
The Chairperson also recommended that if the municipality said that they had used money for youth programmes, they should provide a comprehensive report on how the money was used. Most importantly, did the money benefit the youth? If not, there should be consequence management.
National Youth Development Agency Annual Performance Plan 2022/23
Ms Asanda Luwaca, Executive Chairperson, NYDA, expressed her condolences to the families of the victims of GBVF. The GBVF issue was a priority for the NYDA. It was cognisant of the challenges that the economy was facing. There were not enough employment opportunities for young people. She suggested that there be an approach involving the government and society to ensure that there were opportunities to develop young people for the future. The National Youth Policy that had been adopted expressed the commitment to developing the youth.
She said the NYDA had reached many highlights in the financial year. This included securing funding not only for 35 000 young people, but also grants for young enterprises. The community works programmes in Mpumalanga had now been extended to three provinces. The NYDA had conceptualised its interventions to provide services across all provinces through 44 offices, particularly focusing on rural areas. This meant that products and services would be available to communities that had not been prioritised previously.
She emphasised that the NYDA did not spend R2.6 million building a house. Rather, it supported the project with R550 000 for things such as uniforms and tools. No young person should be left behind.
Mr Waseem Carrim, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), presented the NYDA’s annual performance plan (APP) and budget for the 2022/23 financial year. He provided context for the plan, the progress of its programmes and information on its vacant and filled positions.
Mr Culita Mhlongo, Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) took the members through the NYDA’s income for the financial year and the budget per programme.
Mr Carrim ended the presentation by speaking about the youth and how the NYDA was particularly helping young people with disabilities.
The Chairperson asked the NYDA to expand on their working relationship with the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD). The NYDA needed to elaborate on the problems that they had with the DWYPD. The function of policy formulation was unclear. How was the policy presented? Was it tabled? In terms of research and development, the NYDA needed to ensure that it was working with the DWYPD to ensure that there was an understanding of who was doing what. The NYDA was expected to be innovative, especially during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) said she appreciated the quick intervention on the accusations against the NYDA. It was a great concern to members of the public how much money was spent on a house. The Committee appreciated the fact that the control committee was able to respond together with the NYDA. She agreed that there should be some form of mechanism to monitor and follow up on the partnerships with municipalities. She suggested that there be a memorandum of understanding with these municipalities. Further, every now and then there should be some form of monitoring and evaluating how the partnerships were working and whether the municipalities were implementing them. This would aid in avoiding negative publicity. Municipalities should ensure that there was proper implementation of memorandums of agreement.
The Committee had made recommendations on the 2021 Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) around the implementation of the NYDA’s audit action plan and quarterly progress reports. It had been suggested that the NYDA examine its targets and consider setting higher targets, as well as improving its information and communications technology (ICT), and that it should provide a comprehensive report. Suggestions had been made on how the NYDA should determine its impact in the short, medium and long term. It should explore how it could access workplace infrastructure by identifying municipal and other public buildings where shared office spaces could be utilised. She appreciated the fact that the NYDA had incorporated some of the recommendations. She asked about progress in implementing a recommendation that performance information reflecting what had and had not been achieved should be integrated with its financial reporting. The budget should reflect the costs of achieved targets against what was budgeted for.
How had the findings of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) been considered in developing the current APP? She applauded the NYDA for submitting its APP on time. It was important to know what board members were doing individually and collectively. What was each and every board member responsible for? This was needed in order to evaluate whether performance management methods had found expression in the revised strategic plan. What were the key measures for the success of the pathway management plan? She wanted to know more about branding strategy and what it entailed.
Out of the 20 national service projects that had been reported, how many had been registered and how many were outstanding? She asked for a list of these. Programme one of the APP indicated a doubling of the value of funds sourced from the public and the private sectors. How would the NYDA ensure this? An amount of R150 million had been noted as coming from the public and private sectors to support youth development programmes. What was the strategy to double the value of funds that were sourced by SETA partnerships? Why had the number of SETA partnerships remained the same between the end of the previous financial year and the current one? Which technology companies were being targeted? What did the NYDA hope to gain from these partnerships?
There were a number of vacancies. Which ones were critical? What were the fifteen specialists that were required? Regional managers were needed for the Western, Eastern, and Northern Cape. When would these vacancies be filled? It was important for the functionality of these regions.
Ms N Hlonyana (EEF) said that the NYDA must give value for money. Large amounts were being invested in the NYDA but the output in terms of how many young people were being helped was very low. She suggested that the NYDA go back to the drawing board and see how it could help more young people. It was important for young people to benefit. She suggested that there be information on WhatsApp about the NYDA’s work. Many young people used WhatsApp, and in this way the NYDA could even reach young people in rural areas.
Ms B Marekwa (ANC) said that more work needed to be done by the NYDA. For programme two the targets for receiving money from sources like companies and agencies that were working with them had been doubled. Why had the targets increased? There was also mention of trusts supporting business development and providing jobs to 10 000 young people. She asked for clarity on these targets. Specifically, what type of jobs would be made available and in which provinces? She asked the NYDA to explain to the Committee the new targets under programme two.
In certain instances, the NYDA relied on donor funding from provincial governments. She asked for a more detailed explanation on this and which provinces were involved. There was a target of 35 000 young people securing paid service opportunities. How would these young people be identified? How would the NYDA ensure that there was an even distribution across all provinces? Even distribution would ensure that there are no problems such as only big cities benefiting. Young people in rural areas also needed to benefit.
When the NYDA did research, did it ever consider young people who were in prisons? There were young people in prisons who were qualified. There were young people who had the potential within them but found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Young people in prisons needed to reintegrate into society. In some instances when they were released, they became repeat offenders. There should also be more awareness of young people involved in drug taking and who had given up.
She commended the NYDA for the work that they had done. However, it was important to follow up on the projects and evaluate whether young people had been benefiting from the money spent. It was important that NYDA was not just distributing funds but seeing the projects to the end. She mentioned a woman who did laundry and a young man who made fire stoves and worked with steel. These were very good projects but these people did not have space to work. She asked the NYDA for assistance in this regard and to provide a report at some stage. The country could benefit from such projects if they were provided with the right spaces and equipment.
The people who were in charge of monitoring young people were not doing justice to them. These monitors should do their job. She suggested that there be someone in the office to coordinate and monitor those who were supposed to monitor the young people. It was important for the office itself to go out from time to time to see the progress on the projects. She suggested that information provided to young people should be readily available in Braille.
Ms T Masondo (ANC) asked why the target for customer service was not reflected in the current APP. Had this been subsumed in other targets? If so, where did it find expression? Of the listed vacancies, which were critical? She also asked what the provincial allocations were for each target and how it would be monitored.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) commended the NYDA for its initiative in providing training on disabilities to every branch. If this initiative was implemented correctly, it would go a long way in ensuring that young people with disabilities could access the services offered by the NYDA. It also showed that the NYDA had considered the recommendations of the Committee. She referred to the targets for the annual report on partnerships established with disability organisations. What did they hope to achieve with this? Would the NYDA work with the Department on this? What were the thoughts of the NYDA on the new Youth Development Bill?
Ms Lebogang Mulaisi, NYDA board member, said the entire board was aware of the high level of youth unemployment. The issue of funding should also be considered. The NYDA could not possibly provide every young person in South Africa with a job opportunity. The NYDA was going to take an integrated approach across departments to ensure these issues were addressed. The youth unemployment problem was structural in nature. There needed to be a number of other interventions. The NYDA is trying to double its targets, but this was not enough. It was looking at alternative funding mechanisms.
The Chairperson asked about the rationale of the Youth Development Bill.
Ms Pearl Pillay, NYDA board member, said that they had been thinking long and hard about what the research function of the NYDA should be. Its research unit was small, and much was expected of it. The Department had very strong research capabilities, so it would be good for there to be a collaborative effort to respond to broader research questions. The NYDA was looking at the reintegration of incarcerated young people into society. However it was not doing direct research.
Mr Carrim addressed the issues around the working relationship between the NYDA and the Department. The NYDA was established as a statutory body in terms of an Act of Parliament and originally located within the presidency. However, it moved when the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation was established and was now with the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities. The President delegated executive authority over the NYDA to a specific department in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act. The NYDA was required to submit its APP and five-year strategic plan to the Minister and then to Parliament. The NYDA must account to the Portfolio Committee for its performance and financial indicators.
The NYDA tried to show programme expenditure by breaking down the budget per line items and giving a breakdown of sub programmes.
There needed to be certain levels to the youth service programmes. At the first level there should be a formal communication of the opening of a programme. The second level was to have young people who were participating in it to be ambassadors and speak positively about the programme. It would be great if the committee in its oversight work could see 50 000 young people wearing uniforms with the logo of the NYDA. The NYDA wanted to create platforms through social media and traditional media for young people to share their stories, share their transitions, and share how the work they were doing was meaningful to their lives. The final level was to take provincial officials, such as premiers, to visit youth service sites. This would be a report on the youth service programme as well as the key measures of the national pathway management network.
On the national pathway management network, he said the NYDA was measuring how many young people were registering for services through the platform and the number of opportunities that providers were listing on the platform. They were looking at how many young people were being connected with those opportunities, what the timeframes were and how long they were able to stay in those posts. The NYDA was trying to get the private sector to contribute to the youth fund.
Regarding vacancies, some management contracts were on a five-year fixed term basis and therefore some of the posts had become vacant. There had also been some resignations. Recruitment of regional managers in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape was underway. Additionally, there are critical vacancies such as a CFO and district coordinators.
The Chairperson interrupted Mr Carrim and asked what had happened to the previous executive management positions that were vacant. She asked whether the positions still existed.
Mr Carrim replied that there were some critical training posts. The trainers and district coordinators were at the specialist level. A decision had been taken to no longer fill the executive management positions. Those roles had been delegated to senior managers. There was a senior manager for corporate strategy and planning and there was a senior manager for the national youth service. This had created great integration in the organisation.
The NYDA was trying to do more with less while still trying to grow the organisation. They wanted to secure more funding for youth development and use the funding in an efficient way. Information in WhatsApp format would be made available. In terms of business development interventions, it should be understood that when young people approached the NYDA they might not be funding ready. They might need assistance with developing their business, marketing support, or even a website. This was where the business development intervention really started. The NYDA felt strongly that it would be able to commit to the target of 10 000 job placements through the national department management network. Currently, no money was being received from provinces. Provinces had taken a certain approach of locating the youth fund in the office of the premier. The NYDA respected this decision but would like to manage it.
There was a platform that young people could log on to create a profile and list the areas where they came from. The NYDA would then attempt to connect them to opportunities that were close by. This was done in an open and transparent way. If applicants were unsuccessful, the NYDA attempted to provide them with other opportunities. There was a fair representation across the nine provinces in terms of gender and young people with disabilities. There were a number of programmes in correctional facilities for young people to receive training to allow them to transition into opportunities when they exited. They also supported those young people when they did exit in terms of accessing innovative products and services. The NYDA attempted to give them access to stability and access to economic opportunities.
There were aftercare policies and aftercare mentorships to continue to support young people and ensure that they had a space to work. There were situations where mentors were not diligent. The NYDA now ensured that it received reports on mentorship from beneficiaries. When mentors were not performing they had to exit the programme.
The Chairperson asked about structural changes. What informed the decisions? Usually, a new board would first study the current structure to understand the operations of the organisation and then evaluate whether the structure should be revised or not.
Ms Mulaisi said that the structure was revised because it seemed as if several competencies had been duplicated. There was a need to look at the organisation in its entirety to see where duplications occurred and then streamline the management.
Ms Pillay said that the NYDA wanted to maximise what they were doing without overspending on an office budget. The NYDA had the ability to bring in additional people if there was a need to do so. The NYDA wanted the most efficient small team but if more capacity was needed they would obtain it. The NYDA felt that the existing office structures and the budget were too bloated with too many roles. This was when the board decided to reduce the amount of spending. There had to be an understanding of different roles and how different positions interacted with each other. The main focus was efficiency and being frugal with the budget.
The Chairperson said the Committee did not want to see the institution fail to do some of its work. Since the structure had been revised the Committee would evaluate this during its oversight.
Dr R Bernice Hlagala, Chief Director: Youth Development, DWYPD, said the NYDA and Department were willing to brief the Committee on the relationship between them. In brief, there had been engagements with the Department and NYDA about the framework for the national youth service programme. The Department led the process of developing the framework and the NYDA implemented the framework. The Department and NYDA worked jointly on the National Youth Policy. The Department was part of the task team that was responsible for developing the policy. There had been a joint contribution to the monitoring and evaluation framework that would be presented to Cabinet soon. The NYDA Amendment Bill was also worked on jointly. The process of developing guidelines for the national youth programme to guide coordination for these services across sectors and all spheres of government was also done jointly. The NYDA had developed an integrated youth development strategy with the assistance of the Department.
There had been national and international engagement in youth month activities. The NYDA had several outreach programmes and sometimes they invited the Minister to participate. The Department was also involved in the BRICS Youth Summit led by the NYDA. There was also a memorandum of agreement with Namibia on helping its youth.
There was a difference between the legislation governing the NYDA and the new Youth Development Bill. The legislation on the NYDA governed how the agency should be operating, whereas the Youth Development Bill was a framework to ensure the implementation of the national youth policy not only by the government but also the private sector. There were provisions to ensure that the youth were benefiting and clarifications about roles.
The meeting was adjourned.
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