In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee was briefed by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on the amendment of the NYDA Bill.
The proposal to amend the Act was intended mainly to address the challenges related to the execution of its broad legislated mandate. It was also geared towards intensifying youth development service provision, and because a balancing act was needed on how the objectives of the Agency were captured in the legislation.
The Committee went through the bill clause-by-clause, after which they raised several issues, such as the Agency's policy mandate and the age requirements for its board members.
National Youth Development Agency Amendment Bill: DWYPD briefing
Dr Bernice Hlagala, Chief Director: Youth Development, Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), said the proposal to amend the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Act was intended mainly to address the challenges related to the execution of its broad legislated mandate. It was also geared towards intensifying youth development service provision because a balancing act was needed on how objects of the Agency were captured (expansive compared to short descriptions). The need for provincial representation or even provincial boards had come up, but it was expensive, and this would have required increasing the budget greatly. A 50/50 gender representation on the board, and meaningful representation for persons with disabilities, had been raised and supported. The Agency’s service delivery model should not ignore technology, nor exclude reaching out to youth through traditional means.
Cabinet approved the draft Bill for tabling in Parliament in February 2022.
The amendment of the NYDA Act sought to address the challenges identified in the practical implementation of the original Act, in line with Chapter 11 of the National Development Plan (NDP), which highlighted the need to build an effective development system that brought about improved results for vulnerable groups, whilst enhancing the state’s capacity to deliver services. The amendment also advanced effective and efficient service provision, articulated in the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF). All these would contribute to the attainment of the NDP’s goal of ensuring a capable, developmental, and ethical state that directs implementation of the district development model (DDM).
Ms Asanda Luwaca, Executive Chairperson, NYDA, emphasised the Agency’s maximum support to the process, consultation, and the parliamentary process of the amendment of the Bill, with the hope that it would contribute positively to the overall functionality of the NYDA.
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The Chairperson expressed her gratitude to the Department for explaining the Bill's amendment. She probed why the Agency’s focus was on research and development, while the Department’s focus would be on policy development. What was the view of the NYDA about this policy mandate? She asked why the policy was initially the Agency’s responsibility, and the legal opinion about the transfer of the policy mandate. She expressed her concern about the future consequence that the policy mandate may have on the Committee, such as had been the case with early childhood development (ECD), and reiterated the importance of providing a clear understanding of the Department’s explanation, the view of the NYDA, and the legal opinion of the state law advisors.
She also asked about the powers the Minister possessed to direct the functions of the Agency, and raised the possibility of unaccountability and non-commitment as challenges to be faced, since the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson were part-time members. A clear line between the separation of the powers of board members and the administration of the entity needed to be achieved.
On the clause of the board members’ age, the Chairperson recommended the completion of tenure for persons under 35 years who were already in the system.
The process of filling the vacancies should remain a parliamentary decision, to ensure a uniform decision-making process -- as it had been for years -- and the removal of board members must be a collaboration between the Minister and Parliament. The Minister could, however, facilitate the processes after the parliamentary decisions had been made. The appointment of the board members must be a parliamentary decision, appointed by the President. The Committee would eventually make inputs into the final version of the Bill. She further asked about the Bill's cost implications.
Ms G Marekwa (ANC) commented on the age of service of 35 and beyond leading to future challenges, as the amendment from the public participation's recommendation had stated that the terms of office must move from two years to five years. Would a person serving at 36 or 37 be required to complete the term? An individual serving for three years indicated that they could serve beyond the age of 35, which could be a potential problem in the NYDA.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) and Ms T Masondo (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson’s sentiments.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) emphasised the need for youths to take responsibility for policy formulation, and said the amendment about this should be highly reconsidered. Youths should decide the policies that concern them. He expressed his displeasure towards increasing board members to ten which would eventually translate to additional financial implications, and needed to be revised. When had the engagement of the political formation happened? How had it happened? Who was present at the engagement?
He said Bill reflected a corporate takeover of the NYDA by the Department, because it did not offer advantages related to the purpose of the Agency. He stated his concern over the NYDA reporting to the Minister. The reason that the NYDA could previously report to the Presidency was to secure their independence and to achieve the objectives of young people. The Minister’s oversight should not necessarily take over the decision-making of the Agency. He also requested further clarity on the Minister’s nomination of the board members. The Bill amendment did not prioritise the challenges being faced by youths, as it was mostly about the removal and replacements of competencies that neither strengthened the NYDA nor improved the lives of young people.
The educational requirements had placed limitations on youths without access to education to partake in the Agency, although they could provide lessons from their personal entrepreneurial experiences. This requirement did not extend to the Members of Parliament, nor did it extend to the ministers and presidency. The amendment exhibited less about development and youths’ participation in the economy. He further opined that people who were almost 35 had little to offer, and should not be on the board.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee for their contributions, and said the comments would be further discussed internally and would include public participation. The Committee must cover the youths’ concerns and deliberations over the Bill to produce the best outcome for them. She also shared Mr Mphithi’s sentiments on the need for youths to operate independently to further their own interests.
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, responded that Dr Hlagala and the Agency would present on which legal process to follow for the public hearings. This meeting was the introduction and was technically the first reading of the Bill.
Dr Hlagala said that the current best practice in the NYDA indicated that the parent department was responsible for the policy mandates, and that the Agency was accountable for the intensification of implementing the programmes. The previous board of the Agency had realised that there were provisions in the Act which were not feasible for it to implement, leading to its request to transfer responsibility to the Department to oversee the development of policies. The current Act stated the provisions for the appointment of interim board members.
Ms Bongi Mapalweni, Deputy Director: Management Secretariat, Office of the DG, indicated that schedule 2 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), under the heading ‘’other public entities,’’ lists those that had the powers to develop policies, while schedule 3 lists all the entities without the powers to develop policies -- and the NYDA was a part of them. A factor to consider was that the NYDA was covered by the PFMA. ECD was in schedule 1 of the PFMA, as it was a constitutional body, while the NYDA was in schedule 3, so comparing both agencies may not necessarily be relevant. She confirmed that an interim replacement had been appointed to complete the tenure of the person replaced until a final decision by Parliament was made.
Mr Emmanuel Kganakga, Director: Youth Legislation and Policy, NYDA, said that the Department’s Minister had the capacity to stipulate more functions of the Agency. The Department’s intention was not to discriminate against youths without educational qualifications, because their experiences and expertise could be advantageous to the board. The Department had taken the decision to extend the board's term to five years for increased stability, but unfortunately, this was rejected by the youths. The term had been reviewed to three years, with a maximum of two terms. The possibility of losing valuable persons due to the age requirement was high as well. It had been concluded that a person who turned 35 would be allowed to complete their term.
In response to the Chairperson’s question on the cost implications, Mr Kganakga said that the Bill would have an insignificant cost for the Agency. For instance, the hiring of new employees was not required, nor was the need for a new mandate undertaking, so the recent increase in the budget allocation to the Agency would adequately accommodate the cost of this Bill.
Ms Lisa Naidoo, Senior State Law Adviser, said that the definition of "Minister" in the first clause had occurred when the Bill was first drafted, and youths fell under the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). Due to the absence of a ministry of youths at the time of discussion, the definition of "Minister" had been the person responsible for youths so that in the event of changes at the ministry, there would be no need for an amendment of the Bill. In clause two, on the amendment of section three on the issue of policy-making, the office of chief state law advisor had no comments on the policy directives of the executives, except from a constitutional standpoint, where the decision and application would be constitutionally sound.
The motivation of the objects of the Agency in section three was to specify what the NYDA would initiate, design and pilot as youth development programmes to be implemented by the Agency, as well as contribute to development of the policy, but the policy would remain with the Minister as a core function. Normally, public entities had autonomy because they made their own revenue. However, the NYDA still relied on allocated funds and did not possess autonomy, as it was under the supervision of the Minister. Therefore, most policies were developed by the Department through the Minister to implement.
Ms Naidoo confirmed that the comment on part-time and full-time members had been noted, and would be further considered by the Department. The removal of Parliament from vacancies and appointments in the amendment of section ten would be considered in the current Act, together with the Department. She agreed with the Chairperson that in filling a vacancy, a clear stipulation about continuing the tenure of a former board member would be made in the Act. It was important to consider the issue of having an accounting officer. This has been noted and would be discussed as to the best way forward for the policy decision with the Department. The arrangement of sections was guided by the legislative drafting practices on terminologies used, which could sometimes be traditional.
Ms Abrahams said that the purpose of this meeting was to discuss the way forward on the Bill. The Committee’s decision from the meeting outcome would be communicated to the Department and the NYDA. She further explained the consideration for processing bills (public hearings), so the Committee needed to advertise public hearings next year towards mid-January for a minimum of a month, and to decide on methods for receiving the written submissions through email or Google forms. She added that the two pending bills assigned to the Committee, the NYDA and the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Bill, did not affect the provinces.
The Chairperson said the discussion would resume next week.
The Committee's minutes of 15 November were adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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