The Portfolio Committee met on a virtual platform to receive a briefing on the National Youth Development Agency’s (NYDA) performance for the second and third quarters of 2022/23. The presentation covered the individual work that each NYDA board member had undertaken in those two quarters.
During the interaction with the Committee, Members asked the NYDA to encourage young people to tap into new industries such as cannabis, the green economy and the maritime sector. The Committee appreciated the importance of hosting mental health programmes for the youth. It expressed concern that the NYDA’s footprint might be restricted to the urban areas, and was leaving out the youth living in rural areas and those living with disabilities. To address these challenges, it was suggested that the NYDA incorporate other languages in its communications, and use community radio stations so that more rural-based areas would have access to its information.
A Member was of the view that the NYDA needed an institutional review so that it would not be seen as irrelevant and not benefiting the youth in the country. For instance, the low numbers in the organisation’s job placement portfolio were very concerning. He also criticised the National Youth Service Programme, saying it failed to deliver on its promises to the youth.
Another Member expressed concern that the presentation did not make much reference to the KwaZulu-Natal province, despite the need for the NYDA among the youth in the area. She also urged the organisation to be more involved on the ground at universities, and play an advisory role for first-year students by offering curriculum advice.
Among other issues, Members enquired about the selection process for young people who had been on overseas trips, the NYDA’s programmes for youths living with disabilities, as well as its market linkages with other partners in the private sector.
The NYDA was asked to provide an explanation as to why it had not attended and made a speech at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, and to describe its working relationship with the Department. This followed a suggestion that the Department often attempted to claim credit for work that had been done by the NYDA, as if it was its own.
The Committee Secretariat indicated that since the Committee Chairperson, Ms C Ndaba (ANC), was at a meeting of committee chairpersons, so the Committee should elect an Acting Chairperson in the interim to chair this meeting.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) was elected Acting Chairperson.
The Acting Chairperson welcomed the new Deputy Minister, Ms Sisisi Tolashe, to her first meeting with the Portfolio Committee. The Committee appreciated the good working relationship forged between the Committee and the outgoing Minister, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
The Acting Chairperson indicated that this week was supposed to be a week for Members to conduct their oversight responsibilities, but this Committee had applied to the House for permission to finish the outstanding work left on its agenda.
The Committee received apologies from Ms A Hlongo (ANC) due to her oversight responsibility with another portfolio committee and from the Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as she was speaking at a graduation for the South African blind community.
Deputy Minister Tolashe appreciated the Acting Chairperson’s kind words, and expressed her excitement at joining the Department and her commitment to be held accountable by this Committee and Parliament.
National Youth Development Agency on Q2 & Q3 performance
Ms Asanda Luwaca, Chairperson, National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), outlined the achievements of the NYDA's board:
- The revitalisation of the National Youth Programme reached the target of 50 000 participants engaging in community services to earn an income and were equipped with the necessary skills.
- Secured funding for grant programme.
- Facilitating the transition to becoming a digital organisation. All of its products and services were now available online.
- Extended Community Work Programme (CWP) in Mpumalanga and extensive participation in the CWP's agricultural programmes.
- Established six Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) partnerships with the NYDA.
- Completed the first approved youth-integrated strategy.
- Reduced its vacancy rate to under 10 percent in the organisational structure
Ms Luwaca said that in 2023, the board had kicked off its "back to school" campaign, which had been implemented in various provinces. Board members had been deployed to various provinces to distribute school bags, sanitary pads, and other necessary items.
Update on investigation
-The NYDA Board of Directors commissioned an independent investigation into allegations levelled against the CEO in May 2022.
-In total, eight witnesses relevant to the allegations have provided evidence.
-Witnesses have been forthcoming and cooperative.
-Twelve sets of documentary files have been reviewed in relation to the allegations.
-There is one witness remaining to be interviewed which will complete the investigative process.
-The final report is expected to be ready by end of February 2023.
-Once the Board has received the report, it will be released to the Executive Authority, Presidency and the Portfolio Committee
The presentation covered the individual work that each board member had undertaken. The presentation also covered the detailed investments, partnership meetings, outreach/youth engagement and special projects of the NYDA over the quarters under review. Members were also taken through progress made on the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) and detailed performance per programme.
(See presentation slides for details).
Ms M Khawula (EFF) made her comments in Zulu and this could not be translated – please see 1:33:17—1:48:00 of the YouTube video
Mr L Mphithi (DA) noted the expansion of the NYDA’s footprint, but wanted to know the types of work the NYDA had done that could make systematic changes. He asserted that the institution did not benefit young people.
He described the NYDA’s portfolio for job placements as quite concerning, as it was not happening at the rate that Members wanted to see. The numbers in the provinces were very low -- such as three job placements in Limpopo, and 17 in the Eastern Cape in the third quarter. Since Members had constantly identified this issue, he wanted to know if the NYDA had any interventions to address the matter. He said that, at the moment, there must be over hundreds of CVs being submitted to the NYDA, so having such low numbers was concerning. Given the grave situation in the job placement portfolio, he was expecting the NYDA chairperson to discuss the issue at length in the presentation. He stressed the importance of the portfolio to youth. He urged the NYDA to dissect the reasons why it had such low numbers -- whether it was due to the incompatibility of skills, the lack of internet connectivity, etc.
Mr Mphithi highlighted the importance of market linkages, and noted its absence in the presentation. He had consistently raised this issue in the past four years. He asked the NYDA which types of conversations it had with the private sector. Young people had ideas, products and services which they were providing in their own communities. All they needed was a niche in the market to expand their businesses. He thus asked what work the organisation had done in this regard. He highlighted that once a young person expanded their business through the market, they would also be able to create more jobs for other people as well. Ultimately, the Committee wanted to see young people creating more jobs and expanding their businesses. He expressed his concern that the Committee might be focusing a lot on the cosmetic aspect of the NYDA, rather than addressing its systematic
He urged the board to review its current operational model because if it continued to operate on the same model it had inherited, it would lead to the same outcome as its predecessors, which had not been favourable to young people.
Mr Mphithi suggested the NYDA should explore the potential opportunities in the new industries for young people to participate in, such as the green economy, cannabis, etc.
He was surprised that the NYDA was not part of the delegation of the Department’s recent trip to New York for the United Nations "State of Women" conference. He wanted to know why the NYDA was excluded, given that there was a session where young people were required to speak. He questioned the rationale of the Department sending a useless directorate to represent young people, whilst overlooking the role of the NYDA by not including them as part of the delegation. He criticised the youth development directorate in the Department for doing nothing for young people.
Mr Mphithi expressed his concern about the working relationship between the NYDA and the Department, as he felt that there was much to be desired from that relationship. He had seen how the Department had attempted to claim performance that it had not achieved. He asked the Deputy Minister to account for how this relationship would be dealt with in future.
He asked the NYDA how young people were selected for those trips, and through what means the information about those opportunities was made available. He personally followed the NYDA on social media, and had never seen any of those opportunities being advertised and communicated on those platforms.
He also found it concerning that the National Youth Services Programme (NYSP) continued to fail to deliver what it had promised to deliver. He commented that governmental departments across the government had failed to implement the initiative. Given that failure, he wanted to know if the NYDA had approached those departments that were not performing to find a solution. He felt it was pointless for high-profile officials such as Ministers and Deputy Ministers to speak at events highlighting the importance of youth, if their own departments could not even commit to implementing the initiative. He urged the Department to play a broader role in strengthening those engagements between the NYDA and governmental departments.
Mr Mphithi expressed his support for the NYDA’s mental health programme. The importance of the programme should be translated into assisting young people by reducing the number of suicide cases, given that there has been an upward trend in the country. Factors such as depression, unemployment, etc, could all be reasons leading to this increase.
He asked the board to think about and review its long-term vision. That meant the organisation needed to review what was not working and holistically do an institutional review. He recalled that during the interview process, the current Deputy Chairperson of the NYDA had spoken at length about maritime opportunities for young people. He therefore asked whether the organisation had explored strategies to develop programmes around those industries that were going to be big in the next five to ten years’ time. The organisation and government needed to start thinking about that, because there was a need to prepare those young people and equip them with the skills needed for those jobs.
He highlighted the importance of having a good communication model to effectively convey the organisation’s message to young people and restore their confidence in the NYDA.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) observed that the strategic partnership with the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector for persons with disabilities had been mentioned only once in the presentation. He needed to know more details.
Ms P Sonti (EFF) made her comments in another language and this could not be translated – please see 2:10:40—2:12:52 of the YouTube video
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) noted the absence of any activities related to the KZN province in the presentation, while there was so much work that required the NYDA’s attention, particularly in rural areas. She found its lack of action in the province hugely disappointing.
She commented on the importance of having the NYDA assist youth in choosing their curriculum for registration at the universities. The NYDA was not visible at any university at the time of registration to assist first-year students, and attributed the high unemployment rate of graduates to the lack of guidance.
Ms C Phiri (ANC) emphasised that the NYDA had a long way to go, especially in its work and in expanding its footprint in rural areas to serve the young residents there.
Ms G Marekwa (ANC) affirmed that the country needed the NYDA’s work, and for it to be reaching out to the youth of the country. She emphasised the vastness of some provinces, and indicated that it was insufficient for the organisation to make its footprint only in the main cities. The youth in the rural areas also needed the services of the NYDA.
Commending the organisation for the work it had done, she remarked that the work showed that the organisation was making progress in helping young people in the communities. She encouraged the organisation to do more and not forget the youth in rural areas.
Ms Marekwa suggested that different languages must be included in the organisation’s communication strategy. It was more effective to reach out to some people in some areas when the language of communication was in their home-based language. She also urged the organisation to target local community stations in their communication strategy, as the major radios did not cover the rural areas.
Ms Sonti made her comments in another language and this could not be translated – please see 2:24:42—2:25:45 of the YouTube video
Ms Khawula made her comments in Zulu and this could not be translated – please see 2:25:53—2:32:35 of the YouTube video
The Acting Chairperson commended the NYDA’s work, and noted the various activities that board members had done both individually and collectively. She hoped that through those stakeholder engagements, the NYDA was reaching out to the youth in the country.
The Committee noted the different sites the organisation had visited, the different strategy sessions it had been involved in, and the different platforms it had used. She commended this, as it showed that the organisation was truly on the ground.
She understood that while it was important for Committee Members to know about the strategic outcomes of those engagements and activities, aligning those activities to the objectives of the Portfolio Committee and the NYDA’s mandate was equally important. She thus recommended that the NYDA, in future, should structure its report in a way that was guided by its legal mandate.
Ms Luwaca explained the organisation’s rural outreach strategy. She said it had been developed and adopted, and the NYDA had various outreach initiatives targeting rural communities. The board was deliberate in its work to ensure that no young persons, particularly those living in rural areas, were left behind. For instance, the NYDA had partnered with the Umlambo Foundation, where it had partnered with MTN, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and other various private partners trying to make information communication technology (ICT) more accessible to young people in the Vhembe district in Limpopo. It was also exploring a potential partnership with the MTN foundation for its MTN Skills Academy.
The NYDA had collaborated with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and a company called Tecno Mobile to develop programmes for grown children. It aimed to assist children-headed families who had lost both parents due to COVID-19. She could assure the Committee that the NYDA did prioritise its work with the youth in rural areas. Its current discussion was with MTN to ensure that its platform would be zero-rated so that young people using their online system would not be deterred from participating because of high data costs. Currently, more than 250 000 young people are using the system. The NYDA also had its youth entrepreneurship programme to support young business people who had started in the telecommunication sector, to provide skills development. It had asked MTN to consider which of the current programmes in the NYS programme it could provide support in terms of skills development. In addition, there was a discussion about establishing a youth digital skills incubator. It was widely acknowledged that building digital infrastructure was a long-term investment that would benefit future generations.
In response to the question about the NYDA’s assistance to the disabled population, Ms Luwaca indicated that MTN had a special needs education programme which targeted youth with disabilities. She reiterated the board’s commitment to continuously engaging young people across all provinces.
Ms Luwaca explained that the NYDA had submitted an apology for its absence at the UN event. The reason is that the UN summit took place concurrently with the Nelson Mandela Youth Dialogue, which was a Presidential Initiative. The NYDA was of the view that it had to prioritise the dialogue.
She confirmed that the overseas opportunities to which Members referred had been made available on all of the NYDA’s social media and communication platforms. It encouraged all young people to apply, and there was a rigorous short-listing process. The organisation would be happy to elaborate more specific details around the Russia trip, which she believed was what had been specifically referred to, but she indicated that the NYDA had responded to that question to the Committee in its previous engagement.
Ms Luwaca said the organisation had continuously presented to the Committee about its National Pathway Management Network which provides learning and earning opportunities, creates a single entryway for unemployed youths' access to the economy, and a range of support services. Those presentations that the NYDA had previously made all referred to the market linkages Mr Mphithi had enquired about. The network addressed the barriers that young people faced. The Department of Employment and Labour leads the network. It works closely with the Presidency, the NYDA, the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Youth Employment Accelerator and the Youth Employment Service. Three million youths were registered on the network, and 500 000 youths were registered on the Employment Services of South Africa (ESSA) system. The network had more than 10 000 opportunities, and over 300 000 had secured earning opportunities through the SA Youth platform. Of those opportunities, 69% had been filled by women, 30 000 youths had received non-financial support from the agency, and 75% of those beneficiaries lived in rural or township areas.
The NYDA was of the view that it was essential to identify, as well as eliminate, barriers to participation for youth with disabilities. Currently, the NYDA has partnered with Disability Connect and hosted a disability career expo in 2022. The expo aimed to promote and enable employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. The event brought together 1 200 learners, graduates and entrepreneurs living with a disability. More than 30 corporate executives showcased various opportunities ranging from bursaries, skills development programmes and job opportunities. This initiative would be continued during the term of the current NYDA board.
Ms Karabo Mohale, Deputy Chairperson, NYDA, said that the recruitment process for the Agricultural Summer School was done by the University of São Paulo in Brazil. Applicants needed to apply to be admitted by the university first, as the programme was free of charge. The NYDA supported successful candidates with their travelling and accommodation arrangements. She confirmed that all social media platforms had been used to communicate those opportunities, but agreed that more work should be done to increase its reach, since a young person living in far-reached rural areas might not have access to a post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and would not have known about the opportunity. The positive outcome of the event was that the successful applicants were predominantly from the traditionally rural provinces. Similarly, the National Electronic Media Institute of SA (NEMISA) recruitment was also shared on the NYDA’s social media platforms. She informed the Committee that an intake for the Agricultural Summer School would commence again this year. The NYDA would consider Members’ inputs and utilise its local branches to disseminate the programme information.
She responded to Ms Hlengwa that the NYDA had done a lot of work in KZN. The bulk of its work in KZN was featured in the NYDA’s report around the "Back-to-School" programme and flood assistance. She would ensure that future reporting would include annexures of such nature for Members’ better understanding. She pointed out that given the NYDA’s limited resource, it utilised service centres to go to rural communities for immediate interactions with young people. In its future report, the NYDA would also include information on how branch members engaged with the public in rural areas.
She clarified that the Chinese Cultural Centre Initiative was a collaboration between the centre and the NYDA, and was not funded by the NYDA. The cultural centre was funded by Chinese companies investing in the South African economy. Those companies had set aside opportunities that were designated not only for the youth, but for South African citizens. The NYDA assists in recruiting young people for the centre, and is currently finalising its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them.
Ms Mohale said the board would be convening a meeting the following day to finalise the details around how the youth could access the Youth Fund in Gauteng. It would ensure that the information would be communicated to the branches so that it would be circulated to all the youths residing in townships and rural areas in Gauteng. The Chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had also launched a Limpopo Youth Fund which specifically catered for the youth in Limpopo. The main issue was that the NYDA needed to ensure that more people got to know about its work.
She said the NYDA was fully aware of the vast amount of opportunities in the cannabis and hemp industry, and had hosted information sessions with different stakeholders. Those sessions shared information about how young people could participate, how they could equip themselves with those scarce skills, etc. This work would be included in the NYDA’s quarter four performance report around cyber security.
The NYDA was committed to ensuring that young people have the skills the economy requires. Nevertheless, she highlighted that to enable that, the country needed all stakeholders to work together to have a more holistic approach to addressing the youth unemployment and skills development issue.
Mr Thulisa Ndlela, NYDA board member, reaffirmed that the NYDA had done a lot of work in the KZN province. For instance, it had a partnership with the KZN Department of Social Development that had established two skills centres to assist the youth who had been in conflict with the law.
He supported the promotion of working in the agricultural sector for young people. He recalled the conversation he had had at the Nelson Mandela Youth Dialogue a few weeks ago. He had met with a group of youths who worked in the agricultural sector in the OR Tambo district, and had engaged with them to listen to the specific concerns young people faced. He commented that those engagements helped board members to be more on the ground, and not think about solutions in their offices that could be out of touch. He added that the organisation thought of agriculture as not only a business solution, but also as a lifestyle that could help young people.
He said he noted the central applications office (CAO) issue.
Mr Ndlela said that during the Career Expo, the organisation had communicated to young people that universities were not the only solution after matric. It encouraged matriculants to explore other opportunities, such as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and other post-education sectors. The idea of putting post-matriculant students into higher education institutions presented a job creation challenge in relation to the National Development Plan (NDP). If the country aimed to create 11 million jobs by 2030, of which nine million would be in small enterprises, it needed to channel more young people towards business and entrepreneurship studies.
Mr Waseem Carrim, CEO, NYDA, responded to the Committee’s comment about the organisation’s low number of activities in the rural areas. He explained that the low numbers could partly be attributed to the lower levels of economic activity in areas such as the Northern Cape and the North West Province. He reassured the Committee that the NYDA was committed to penetrating different areas in the country. He pointed out that one of the other factors that had deterred the NYDA’s reach into rural areas was because its social partners did not have a presence in those communities. The NYDA had therefore made it its goal to capacitate its social partners so that they could expand their footprint to those areas. He was optimistic that the Committee would start to see increases in the number of projects in rural-based provinces in the NYDA’s fourth quarter report.
Mr Carrim reiterated that the NYDA had continuously presented its work to show the Committee its market linkages. For instance, it works with the South African Bureau Standard (SABS) to facilitate the accreditation for youth-made products in the manufacturing sector so that their products could find their way onto the shelves of large retail market outlets. Another project which the NYDA was involved in was that it partners with Yoco to give young people access to better payment solutions for their start-up businesses. This was a continuous process.
He disagreed with Mr Mphithi's remark that the NYS programme was useless. He felt that given the limited resource of the NYS in South Africa, the monitoring and evaluation showed that it was not doing badly compared to many other advanced economies which were spending much more on similar programmes. The NYDA had been able to take the NYS from zero to 50 000, and had made a deep impact in communities. The NYS steering committee monitored what governmental departments were contributing to the programme. The NYDA was even involved in drafting the expanded public works programme (EPWP) to make it better aligned with the mandates of the National Youth Service Programme.
He also disagreed with Mr Mphithi that mining was a sunset industry in South Africa. He pointed out that there were numerous job opportunities in the value-added commodities sector of the industry. What was more important, however, was that the NYDA was training young people to equip themselves for jobs in the digital space.
He reminded the Committee that in its last engagement with the Committee, the NYDA had mentioned its three largest cannabis training programmes. One was with the Agri-SETA, one with small business development, and the third programme was with the TVET colleges. He therefore affirmed that the NYDA was aware of the opportunities the youth could benefit from those new industries.
In response to Mr Mphithi’s input that the organisation needed to undertake an institutional review, Mr Carrim said that government requested the NYDA to be responsible for youth entrepreneurship, the revitalisation of the National Youth Service, and to support the Department of Employment and Labour in creating jobs for young people. The NYDA faced difficulty because it was oversubscribed on all its programmes. The demand exceeded the service which it renders. He objected to the view that the NYDA had an institutional problem, arguing that the problem was rather the funding constraint. Despite that, the organisation tried its best to source additional funding from a number of sources to carry out its mandate and expand its services to young people. He pointed out that the employment of youth was not only the mandate of the NYDA -- the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Employment and Labour and the Department of Small Business Development should also be involved in helping to achieve that objective.
He also indicated that the bulk of the organisation’s budget was spent on service delivery, such as grants, stipends, etc, whereas very little was spent on workshops. This resulted in the public not knowing about the programmes the NYDA hosts, because it had no additional budget to communicate such messages to the public.
Mr Carrim said that dialogue was an important platform to engage young people to make them feel that their voices were being heard, which currently was not the case. He highlighted that the NYDA was the only entity that had achieved 8% representation of youth with disabilities in the employment stimulus in the second and third quarters, whereas most departments averaged only about two percent.
He highlighted that the location of the Nelson Mandela Youth Dialogue had been deliberately chosen in an area that was not often frequented to reach out to the youth in rural areas. The board was resolute and committed to the inclusion of rural youth. He added that expanding its digital infrastructure was a prerequisite so that the organisation’s work could be easier in accessing more youths who needed the NYDA’s assistance.
Dr Bernice Hlagala, Chief Director: Youth Development, Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), said that without any doubt, the NYDA would have delivered the statement if it had been at the UN event.
She said the relationship between the Department and the NYDA was a complementary one. The NYDA reported to the Minister as its accounting officer and shareholder. The Department presented on its relationship to the Committee on 4 November 2020. The issue which Mr Mphthi had raised about the lack of clarity on the roles of the NYDA and the Department had been raised in previous meetings, and the Department had made a detailed presentation explaining the issue as well. She denied that there was any way in which the Department had claimed the NYDA’s work where those credits were not due. She emphasised that the Department collaborated with the NYDA on numerous projects, such as developing the national youth policy, the amendment of the NYDA bill, etc.
Deputy Minister Tolashe said she appreciated the NYDA’s presentation and the Committee’s inputs. Many profound questions were asked which were important and fundamental in relation to the objectives. She urged everyone to work together to address the issues that were facing the youth in South Africa. She indicated that there would be an ongoing interaction through which the Department and the NYDA needed to reflect on what Members had said, and compare what they had promised to do to figure out what should be done.
She acknowledged the importance of the rural communities in the country. She highlighted the importance of building coordination and partnerships to strengthen the reach of the NYDA into the rural communities.
Deputy Minister Tolashe concluded by expressing her commitment to be at the service of the youth in the country.
The Acting Chairperson expressed her appreciation to the presenters, the NYDA, the Department, and the Members for their inputs. She urged people to work together to advance the interests of the youth in the country. She reminded board members of the brilliant ideas they had put forward during the interview process, and urged them to work towards realising and implementing them.
She urged the NYDA to pay attention to substance abuse and mental health issues among young people, and suggested that these issues could be discussed with the Department of Higher Education as well.
The meeting was adjourned.
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