National Youth Development Agency A/B: public hearings

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

24 October 2023
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee met in person to conduct public hearings on the National Youth Development Agency Amendment Bill [B13-2022]. The bulk of the day’s meeting was focused on discussions between the Members, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) board, and the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) on the details of the bill.

Members asked about the non-executive role of the NYDA chairperson and deputy chairperson as envisaged in the amendments, the removal of the position of chief operating officer from the Act, the replacement of “President” by “Minister” in the bill, the monitoring of the NYDA’s youth programmes, its plans to expand its footprint to rural areas, and the omission of its investigative functions in the amendments.

They sought clarity on the removal of the NYDA’s provincial offices in the amendments. They were firmly against the change in the age limit, from 18 to 35, to 21 to 35. There was consensus that in addition to the definition of youth given in the Constitution, the creativity and innovative minds of youth could be a great asset to the entity. Members emphasised the importance of fair representation on the board, including geographical spread, gender, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQI community.

Due to poor internet connectivity on the hybrid platform, the presentations made by members of civil society organisations could not be heard in full, and Members made very few inputs. They commented that the public wanted the NYDA to do more for young people. 

Meeting report

Due to the Chairperson of the Committee being delayed in traffic, Ms B Marekwa (ANC) was nominated by the Committee to be the interim Chairperson in her absence.

The meeting was to hear six submissions as part of the public participation process on the National Youth Development Agency Amendment Bill [B13-2022].

The Committee noted the apologies of Ms A Hlongo (ANC) and Ms F Masiko (ANC).

On the side of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the Committee noted the apology of Mr Waseem Carrim, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In addition, Ms Karabo Mohale, the NYDA Deputy Chairperson, was on study leave in the U.K., and board members, Ms Pearl Pillay, Mr Avela Mjajubane and Ms Lebogang Mulaisi, had all submitted apologies for their non-attendance.

The Chairperson was dissatisfied with the non-attendance, pointing out to the NYDA that this amendment bill was about the NYDA, so board members should have made an effort to appear.

Ms C Phiri (ANC) accepted the apology of the NYDA’s Deputy Chairperson, and found it inspiring that young people were learning to empower themselves.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) was unhappy at their non-attendance, and indicated that Committee Members had come from afar to attend those sessions. Although she was happy to hear that young people were studying, that explanation did not sit well with her.  

Ms N Sharif (DA) wanted to know the reasons for other board members’ non-attendance.

Ms Asanda Luwaca, NYDA Board Chairperson, said that members who were not present would be joining this meeting virtually.

The Chairperson emphasised the principle that when people were called to Parliament, it was compulsory for them to appear. Being on the board of the NYDA was a responsibility to serve the young people in South Africa. The Committee had gone through tough pressure in appointing the current board, and board members should show appreciation for that. If board members continued to disregard the Committee, it would have to make the recommendation to the President to remove them. She stressed that the NYDA board members were accountable to the young people of South Africa.

NYDA submission on the National Youth Development Agency A/B

Dr Bernice Hlagala, Chief Director: Youth, Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabillities (DWYPD), led the Department’s delegation team, and made the presentation.


Ms Sharif asked the Department why the proposed amendment took away the executive power of the NYDA.

Dr Hlagala explained that the Department had established an inter-departmental committee which included the NYDA and other governmental departments. That committee proposed that the executive chairperson and deputy chairperson should be playing a non-executive role, and the proposal was also endorsed by the NYDA, and the young people in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). The rationale was that there was confusion between the executive management and the board, so the proposal had been put forward. In addition, that inter-departmental committee had also researched and benchmarked against other board structures such as that of the National Development Agency, etc, and had found that it was a norm to have the chair and deputy chair playing a non-executive role. 

Ms Phiri said she was not comfortable with that proposal.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Phiri, and was of the view that in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and productivity, the board should remain as it was, because it had only two full-time board members. With its current seven-member board, it was already struggling to reach out to young people. She therefore urged the Department and the NYDA to consider the growing demand from the country’s younger population, given that 60% of its population were the youth now, and the tremendous challenges they faced. The Committee expected to see NYDA members out there doing the work of the NYDA.

Ms Phiri asked the Department why it supported removing the NYDA's Chief Operating Officer (COO).

The Department responded that the statute of the NYDA provided the position of "head of operations," which was equivalent to the function of a COO. There was no need to have a COO in the NYDA. In terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Mr Thulisa Ndlela, NYDA board member, said that both the positions of chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO) were legislated. The establishment of the COO position should be left to the discretion of the board to ensure some level of flexibility.

Dr Hlagala added that s16(1)(a) of the Principal Act also gave executive officers the power to appoint such positions such as the COO, so she supported the removal.

Ms Phiri accepted that explanation, and agreed that it should be the discretion of the board to appoint a COO, bearing in mind that law-making was a time-consuming process.

Ms Khawula agreed with Ms Phiri as well. She noted that cases were being reported in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, where taxpayers’ funds were being misspent by NYDA people on hotel stays.

The Chairperson remarked that this was precisely why she supported having an executive chairperson and deputy chairperson, so those reported matters could be attended to.  

She asked why “President” had been replaced by “Minister” in s19 of the Act.

Dr Hlagala explained that the intention was to apply what had been practised in other government departments, where the Minister of that portfolio oversaw the entities under that portfolio. The reason that the NYDA had been assigned to the President was because there had been no Minister overseeing the portfolio of youth at the time. Since there was now a Minister to oversee that function in the country, it should be done so. In addition, the Department did not want to over-burden the President with administrative responsibilities.

The Chairperson agreed, and accepted the explanation.  

Ms Sharif disagreed with the proposal that NYDA’s provincial offices should be run through and coordinated by the Offices of the Premiers. She said the public’s biggest criticism of the NYDA was its lack of reach, especially in rural areas and townships such as Soweto. She felt that the NYDA was shying away from its responsibilities, and shifting them to the Premiers’ Offices. The Committee’s position had always been on the need to expand its work.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Sharif, and particularly emphasised the need for its expansion in rural areas and provinces such as the Eastern Cape. She added that the NYDA should assist young people from rural areas by appointing more interpreters, since many did not have a good command of the English language.

Ms Phiri was disappointed at the NYDA’s lack of vision, and not thinking about its long-term impact. She pointed out that should the provincial offices of the NYDA be located within the Offices of the Premiers, it may result in the complication that leaders from different political parties may have different views and affect the NYDA’s programmes.

She complained about the lack of access of some of its facilities to people living with disabilities. For instance, she questioned how a person who sat in a wheelchair could get into their office on the 16th floor. In addition, she reported that a person from her constituency had told her that the NYDA had continuously ignored his inquiries.

She urged the NYDA and its board members to have a forward vision, which was lacking in its amendments.

She rejected the proposal to amend the age limit as contained in the amendment bill, as the Constitution defined the youth age group.

Ms Khawula spoke in isiZulu and the interpreter did not translate. (Refer to audio at 1:51;49 to1;58:30)

Ms N Sonti (EFF) pointed out that the role of the NYDA was to assist young entrepreneurs. Given the youths' dire need for jobs in this country, she asked if the NYDA was doing anything to assist in that regard. In her observation, many educated youth who lived in rural areas and townships were resorting to drugs and alcohol abuse after they failed to secure jobs.

Ms G Opperman (DA) was of the view that the amendments proposed a lot that removed the NYDA’s key mandates. For instance, if the monitoring of youth programmes was removed, how would the NYDA measure the success levels of its programmes on the ground?

Since government was driving the district development model (DDM), she asked how the Agency planned to integrate its provincial offices into that system to expand its footprint.

She asked what would happen after those piloted programmes, such as the youth development programme, came to an end.

Since the amendments removed the national youth priority programmes, she wanted to know who would then decide what the annual youth priorities should be.

She asked why the amendments had removed its investigative function.

What would the NYDA do to assist and enforce if any organ of state did not participate in promoting youth?

Ms G Marekwa (ANC) also asked the Department and the Agency why the investigative function had been removed.

She wanted to know why the wording “social cohesion” had been omitted, as it was one of the NYDA’s key functions.

Ms Sharif felt that the proposed change in age bracket, from 18 to 35 to 21 to 35, suggested that not enough credit was being given to young people. Although she understood the rationale behind the NYDA’s proposal, she pointed out the Constitution's provision, and maintained that it should be 18 to 35. Young people were not being given the chance to gain experience.

She was a bit concerned with s5 regarding mental health, as health was a function carried out by the Department of Health (DoH), and the Department of Social Development (DSD) to some extent. If this bill was legislated, the proposed amendment would result in a need to review the mandate of the NYDA.

In terms of clause 10, amending s12 of the Act, she highlighted the importance of consistency in terms of those committees as they would be legislated.

The Chairperson urged the NYDA to work with rural provinces and include distant peripheral areas.

The failure and uneven performance of the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) sanitary dignity programme was the reason why the Chairperson and the Committee did not think that the NYDA’s provincial offices should be located in the Premiers’ Offices.

She noted that the proposed amendment increased the number of board members from seven to nine, and highlighted that evenness in geographical spread must be considered when appointing them.

Ms Sharif had some reservations about the increase to nine members, as she felt the board was doing just fine with seven members. She would need to apply her mind to the matter.

The Chairperson added that persons with disabilities and the geographical spread should be factored into the appointment process.

Ms Phiri added that demographics such as sex, race, age and disability factors should be well-represented. She therefore felt that the proposed increase in the number of board members was justified.

She sought clarity on whether the two ex-officials were afforded the same rights and privileges as other members of the board.


Dr Hlagala indicated that the Committee could expect more detailed responses in the meeting next week, but she would touch on a few issues for now.

On board members, the Department acknowledged the crucial role of this bill and felt that the proposed amendments would close the gaps that used to be there, such as vacancies, etc. The amendment proposed to add two ex-officials, but without official voting rights. Currently, the seven board members are appointed by the parliamentary process. The amendment proposed that those two additional members be nominated by the executive authority, which was the Minister.

On the issue of mental health, she stressed that Members must pay attention to the wording used in the amendments. Those areas for which the NYDA was responsible were primarily in an assisting role.

In terms of Section 7, the Department considered that the “organs of state” was misplaced.

The Department responded to Members’ concerns that the proposed amendment seemed to have removed the investigative function of the NYDA. She said that it was more a semantic issue. The investigative function which the NYDA performed was more related to research evidence and gathering evidence on issues related to young people.

The removal of “social cohesion” was because of repetition. The National Youth Service was already a social cohesion programme.

Dr Hlagala added that the two ex-officials would be representing the shareholders of the NYDA, as provided by the NYDA Act.

The Chairperson said the Committee might not agree with the Department’s approach.

Ms Opperman inquired about the cost implication of the ex-officials.

She enquired about the composition of the board -- whether or not it would reflect the representation of gender and persons with disabilities.

How did the Department envisage the performance assessment of the NYDA board?

She referred to members of the civil service, and asked how the Department proposed to navigate the potential conflict of interest.

Ms Phiri indicated that the Committee was of the view that the two additional members should be given the same power and be subjected to the same parliamentary process as the others.

Ms Sonti supported Ms Phiri. She asked whether members of the LGBTQI  communities, and persons with disability were represented in the current board. She felt that it had to be legislated.

Ms Sharif questioned Ms Phiri’s suggestion, asking whether it would be practical to ask an interviewee about their sexuality during an interview.

Ms Phiri pointed out that if a person entered the NYDA at the age of 34 or 35, they were eligible to be accepted to serve on the board. She asked why the proposed amendments had to adjust the lower age limit from 18 to 21.

The Chairperson endorsed that view, and remarked that certain applicants had been over the age of 35 when they applied. She stressed that the Committee could not pass laws against the Constitution.

Dr Hlagala commented on the issue of age, and said the Department had consulted young people as well. The Department might be representing only the view of the young people which it had consulted. The Department was also cognisant of the National Youth Policy, the African Youth Charter, etc, which all defined youth as being between the ages of 14 and 35. However, the Department felt that 14 was too low for someone to serve on the board, and that 21 was a bit too much as the lower age limit. It believed there were talented young people who were only 18, and without any form of tertiary education. It was firm that it did not want to create an elitist board, and that the appointment of board members should be based on skills and qualifications.

The Chairperson listened to the Department’s explanation and agreed that the age limit should be maintained.  

Ms Luwaca welcomed the Committee’s inputs on the bill. She gave an assurance that there were various pieces of legislation that governed how the NYDA board operated, such as the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the Companies Act, etc. The board also relied on various committees for their assistance.

She explained that since the NYDA Act was a s75 bill, which meant it did not have provincial competency, the Agency did not have provincial offices, but already had offices in 56 districts. What the amendment sought to recommend was the NYDA’s intention to work with the Offices of the Premiers, instead of having provincial offices of its own. She assured the Committee that this would not affect the current role and responsibilities of the Agency. For instance, it had already established partnerships with various provincial Offices of the Premiers.

Dr Hlagala said the Department disagreed with the Agency’s indication that the entity should not have provincial offices, because having those offices in place at the provincial level would ensure that service delivery would be rolled out and delivered to young people.

That concluded the discussion between the NYDA and the Department.

Due to the poor Internet connectivity in the physical venue, most of the presentations below were not captured in full.

Submission by Mr Manganyi from Limpopo

(Refer to audio at 3:11:58)

Submission by Mr Sekhejane

(Refer to audio at 3:19:00)

Due to the poor audio quality of those two presentations, Ms Sharif requested the Committee administrative staff to collate something from the presenters in writing so that Members could have something to work on.

Ms Sharif noted the recommended age limit by one of the presenters, from 18 to 35, to 18 to 39. She sought more clarity on the matter.

Mr Sekhejane’s response was inaudible. (Refer to audio at 3:22:00-3:23:12)

The Chairperson made a similar request for presenters to provide their inputs and responses in writing and submit them to the Committee, since Members could not hear much of the response.

Submission by Ms Tebello Motshwane

Ms Motshwane's submission stated that the role of traditional leaders should be recognised and included in the National Health Insurance (NHI) to assist the people at large with the gift that they got from their ancestors.

Ms Phiri was uncertain of the submission's relevance. She wondered whether Ms Motswwane had intended to use her submission to urge the NYDA to advocate for more traditional leaders and young people to be included in the drafting of the NHI.

The interpreter who had presented Ms Motshwane’s presentation was also unsure of the presentation content, as she was merely reading and translating the submission script that this presenter had submitted.

Submission by Dr Stanley Maposa -- Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund

Please refer to the attached document.

Submission by Ms Z Sithole

Please refer to the attached document.

Submission Sipho Mbonani

Please refer to the attached document.

Ms Sharif asked Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund whether it was making a recommendation that the NYDA should be moved from the Schedule 3 list to the Schedule 2 list in the Fund’s interpretation of the PFMA.

She asked how the Fund envisages the NYDA’s service delivery, as the Fund had mentioned that the NYDA should move from service delivery to a more general organisation. For instance, it mentioned that the NYDA should be clear on its governance structure to ensure better coordination of products and services. She wanted to know the thinking behind this, as it was consistent with the Committee’s view that the NYDA should be doing more for young people.  

Ms Phiri noted the input from one of the presenters on the financial implications of the advisory board. She urged members of the public to understand the difference between the NYDA board and the advisory board.

She appreciated one of the presenters’ view that the age limit deterred people from funding, but it should be viewed in line with the Constitution.

That concluded the public hearing process for the day.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.




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