National Youth Commission
Review of State Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy
24 January 2007
A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
AD HOC COMMITTEE ON REVIEW OF STATE INSTITUTIONS SUPPORTING
24 January 2007
NATIONAL YOUTH COMMISSION
Chairperson: Prof Kader Asmal (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Terms of reference
National Youth Commission response to Committee questionnaire
National Youth Commission Act, No 19 of 1996
National Youth Commission Amendment Act, No 19 of 2000
National Youth Commission Annual Report 2005/06
National Youth Commission website
The National Youth Commission was the first of the Chapter 9 and associated bodies to appear before the Committee. Members sought greater clarity on how the Commission interpreted their role as set out by their enabling legislation, about its claim regarding non-cooperation from government departments and excessive overseas travel. The Committee raised concerns about the Commission’s apparent lack of coordination with associated commissions such as the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality. It also noted that the Commission should have greater interaction with parliamentary committees and should increase its public visibility.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
Prof Asmal welcomed everyone to the meeting with the National Youth Commission (NYC) which was the first body to appear before the Committee. He said that he hoped that the proceedings would be vigorous and congenial. He reminded everyone that although the NYC was not a Chapter Nine institution, it was associated with the work of those institutions.
The NYC delegation comprised its Chairperson, Ms Nobulumko Nkondlo, its Director of policy and research, Ms Margaret Tshoane and Commissioners Olwethu Sipuka, Elrico van Rooyen and Mothupi Modiba. The Vice Chairperson was on maternity leave and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had recently resigned.
Prof Asmal noted that there was enormous interest in the work of this Committee. The public had a sustained interest in its work because it related to the working of Parliament and of South Africa's democracy as a whole. It was the first time since the foundation of democracy that a review of the Chapter Nine and associated institutions was being done.
He explained that the Committee had sent a detailed 25 point questionnaire to the eleven bodies up for review and all of them had responded within the set timeline. That first interaction would take place that day and the Committee could decide to recall the NYC or any other body before them again as the review proceeded.
The Committee’s constitutional expert, Dr Leon Gabriel (Manager Information Services, Parliament), explained that the NYC had not been asked to orally present on their written submission because it had been received in good time and the Committee had had ample opportunity to go through it extensively. The Committee would that morning focus primarily on the responses to the questionnaire but might also pose additional questions.
Prof Asmal explained that the Committee was not a court of law, a disciplinary committee, an enquiry or even a portfolio committee. The Committee performed a systematic oversight role which differed from the normal oversight role where annual reports etc were interrogated. The Committee would be performing a general oversight role of all the bodies. In addition to the replies to the questionnaire, the Committee could also refer to the terms of reference which in some cases would be broader than what had been sent to the bodies.
Two members of the Committee had been requested to build up some expertise around the NYC and would be leading the questions. Other members could of course also raise questions.
Prof Asmal pointed out that the NYC’s responses to the questionnaire had been fairly broad and that the Committee would therefore require more specific details. He felt it necessary to explain that the Commission before them that day was fairly new, and presented total discontinuity with the previous one. The Commissioners had only been appointed six months earlier. Despite the fact that they had only taken office a short time ago, senior officials had not been available to attend the first joint meeting between the Committee and the bodies to be reviewed, because they had all been away on overseas visits. All other bodies had sent their CEOs and chairpersons to the preliminary meeting. The Committee had drawn some conclusions about the NYC’s inability to do likewise and had felt that since they had been given twelve days in which to reply to the invitation, the Commission could have made alternative arrangements to ensure that they would be represented. This would be discussed in the interaction too.
Prof Asmal requested the NYC to explain how it had gone about preparing its submission as well as who had been involved in that process.
The NYC Chairperson, Ms Nobulumko Nkondlo, responded that the NYC welcomed their inclusion in the review which they thought would enhance their work and youth development in general. The outcome of the review would provide an interesting perspective on how youth development would be taken forward.
The NYC’s executive committee had met after receiving the invitation to the joint meeting. They had also engaged with the youth desk in the Presidency so as to get greater clarity on the work the Committee would be doing.
The executive committee agreed that the Commission had to, at national level drive the promotion of youth development and rally departments and other stakeholders behind their efforts. It had, over time developed a structure that assisted in coordinating their work with that of the provincial commissions. So as part of their preparation of their responses they had met with their provincial counterparts. Via a teleconference with all provincial commissioners, the NYC held a briefing on the process and the importance of their getting involved in the preparation of the responses. They then sent the questionnaire to the provinces to allow them to make input.
They also convened a stakeholders’ forum to talk about the work that was taking place and which they understood would play an important factor in the NYC policy review that had also started in 2006. Youth organisations were sensitised to the process and were encouraged to participate.
The policy and communication units were involved in the process to collate all the input that had been received.
Prof Asmal requested that Dr Gabriel read the NYC’s response to the first question (see documents) which required them to explain how they related their work to the legislative background provided by their enabling act, the National Youth Commission Act (No 19 of 1996) Dr Gabriel noted that their response which comprised four points basically paraphrased and combined some of the objects of the Act.
Prof Asmal found it odd that the response had made no mention of object (f) required the Commission to promote uniformity of approach by all organs of state including provincial governments, where youth-related matters were concerned.
The NYC had responded that it was difficult to coordinate the activities of various provincial government institutions, but the Chairperson reminded them that the coordination never the less remained a very important object.
He continued that the NYC said that they could not do anything about their own budget, which they did not fix themselves. Section 8, however empowered them, in consultation with the Government, to prioritise resource allocation to youth affairs. He was unaware of any other commission having such power and wondered why these three most important functions were not reflected in the NYC’s response.
Ms Nkondlo informed the Committee that her delegation would assist her in answering the questions. She also pointed out that Commissioner van Rooyen was currently the acting CEO.
The Chairperson decided to allow the NYC delegation time to think about the question he had posed and, in the interest of a more relaxed interaction, allow members to pose some of the questions they had prepared.
Ms C Johnson (ANC) said that in addition to the NYC’s responses she had studied their annual reports, strategic plans and website. In the Annual Report and Strategic Plan they listed nine objectives while in the questionnaire they mentioned only four. The information contained in the responses and that contained in the reports reflected a discrepancy in the NYC’s interpretation of their enabling act. The NYC had referred to their mandate in developing their principles, guidelines and recommendations. Ms Johnson requested them to elaborate more in this point.
Ms Johnson wondered how the Commission interpreted and applied their enabling Act as well as the Act's amendments made in 2000. She asked them to comment on whether they thought that what they were doing was in sync with the functions determined in the enabling legislation.
Ms Nkondlo responded that the NYC’s understanding of their objectives was outlined in their response to the questionnaire. When they were developing the response they assumed that the Committee was aware of the enabling act and that the NYC was not required to rewrite what had already been stated in the legislation. They tried to reflect what, amongst everything stated in the legislation, they understood to be their function.
The Strategic Plan and the Annual Report reflected the specifics related to their activities. When the new commission took office they had had a strategic planning session to study the Act and to see how they could ensure that what was contained in it was included in the NYC’s daily work. They understood that the NYC had to coordinate, monitor, lobby and advocate for and coordinate the broader youth development work within the country. This was their understanding of the Act and was consistently reflected in their Annual Report as well as in other documents.
Prof Asmal pointed out that the Committee was interested in what the NYC’s areas of emphases were and why these departed from the core objectives.
Ms Johnson noted that the NYC identified their key focus areas as policy and research, advocacy and lobbying, and coordination and capacity building. She wondered whether the NYC was sufficiently capacitated to realise these objectives.
Ms Nkondlo replied that the NYC’s capacity had evolved over time and that it had built human resource and other capacities to ensure that it could respond to its mandate. She reminded members that the Commission had to respond to enormous challenges facing youth in South Africa. She admitted that at times it had deviated and focussed more on implementation which was not its core function. In order to ensure that the youth agenda was understood it had to develop best practice models.
She suggested that the Committee might also consider their strategic planning document which said that the NYC needed to ensure that policy and research as well as monitoring and evaluation were emphasised as these were its core functions. Resources had to be allocated for this.
Prof Asmal said that the NYC had been in existence for ten years and yet there were some aspects, which to the best of the Committee’s knowledge, had never been carried out. Many of these were mentioned in the annual reports but more specifically were also legal requirements. The legislation afforded them some executive functions yet they claimed that they did not have any power of implementation. While the Commission could interpret the legislation as much as it wanted, the Committee was concerned that the visible work of the NYC had largely been absent. He wondered whether activities such as campaigning would be incorporated in the new programme of action.
Commissioner Modiba responded that the NYC felt that it had over the past ten years quite effectively discharged some of its work. The Umsobomvu Youth Fund was the result of campaigning and had been aimed at addressing the issue of integrating young people into broad economic participation. The Commission had believed that they needed a youth enterprise funding agency of some sort and actively lobbied for the adoption of the fund. They were working with the fund to try and further to improve its work.
The NYC consistently provided reports on the status of youth, identified key areas of focus and tried to direct government departments’ focus to these issues. The NYC agreed that they “had not been perfect over the ten years” and that in some areas there was room for improvement.
Prof Asmal said that the Committee was concerned that in the response document, the NYC gave their own insight of the priorities but excluded some very important statutory obligations.
Ms Johnson commented that the NYC’s budget had increased from R13,8 million in 2002 and would be increasing annually at 7,8% until it reached R21,6 million in 2008. National Treasury felt that the NYC’s responsibilities had increased and thus required an increase in its allocation. The Committee was curious as the manner in which its responsibilities had increased, especially because the enabling act certainly had not changed.
Ms Nkondlo explained that the NYC did not operate in isolation of other institutions. These institutions needed to give the necessary support and leverage to the work of the NYC. Government departments and society in general had to appreciate that more youth development initiatives had been taken up. The NYC had had to grapple with a specific kind of environment. It was advocating for issues such as the establishment of an interdepartmental committee on youth affairs which would assist the Commission in coordinating its work properly. The NYC also had to ensure that resources were wisely spent.
Prof Asmal pointed out that much of what Ms Nkondlo said was contained in the NYC’s response. The Committee wanted more direct answers. The NYC had responded that due to budget limitations they could not do many of the things they were supposed to do. However the budget reflected that despite this claim they had under spent. As Ms Johnson had pointed out, their budget would increase and in which new areas would the NYC spend the additional money.
Ms Nkondlo replied that the NYC was in the process of restructuring their programme so as to align their work with their mandate. In order to strengthen their policy unit, they would increase their research capacity. The NYC needed to do much work in order to promote youth development amongst government departments and other stakeholders.
In addition to promoting youth development, the NYC was responsible for monitoring programmes like the National Youth Service (NYS) programme. One of the challenges the NYC had had to deal with, was that they did not have a monitoring and evaluation system that could ensure that they strengthened their mandate. Much of the resources they would in future receive would go into ensuring that issues were aligned.
Prof Asmal wondered why, if they claimed to need more money to perform their duties, the NYC had underspent to the tune of about R2 to 3 million.
Commissioner van Rooyen responded that the new commissioners had been in office for just over six months. Upon taking office, they had undertaken a review to see if their activities were aligned to their mandate and whether they were able to effectively implement them. Due to the internal restructuring in realising their strategic objectives and mandate, there had been a slower process of expenditure. As far as he was concerned this did not mean that they had underspent.
The filling of certain vacancies had for instance been delayed. These were in the process of being filled now. The CEO had resigned last year and this position would be filled too. By end of February, all vacancies would have been filled. Resources had also been allocated for stakeholder engagement. Money had to be spent responsibly: a proper process had to be followed so that they did not spend because they had the money but spent according to key focus areas and priorities. The money would be spent by the end of the financial year.
In the last six months work had been done around the "youth budget" in order to review what the government departments and private sector were doing for youth development. Last year National Treasury had engaged all national departments about their "youth budget" to see what amount of money could be allocated to specific youth programmes within each department.
The increase in the NYC budget would go towards the National Youth Fund specifically. In the 2006 State of the Nation Address, the President had announced that youth advisory centres would be increased and that 10 000 young people would be enrolled in the NYS, which would be a key focus area. This undertaking had been provided for in the new budget. In the upcoming 2007 State of the Nation Address, the number of young people to be enrolled in the NYS would be increased considerably once more. All these areas would be resourced. The monitoring and evaluation role would also be improved. The NYC was in the process of completing the Youth Development Index (YDI) so that evaluations of Government departments or the private sector would be done against specific indicators.
Prof Asmal wondered whether the NYC’s involvement in the NYS would be around training or just administrative aspects.
Commissioner Sipuka explained that the NYC’s main role was to provide the overall strategic coordination of the programme. They also had to lobby and advocate so that the maximum number of young people got enrolled in the programme.
Prof Asmal asked whether advocacy was not part of the NYC’s normal work activity and asked how much money had been allocated to this effort. He wondered whether the NYC was not now merely acting “as an advertorial” for the Minister (in the Office of the President) and for the Deputy President.
Mr Sipuka said that their understanding was that coordination and other related activities should have a budget aligned to it. The NYC still maintained that they had to have a budget totally committed to coordination. Over the festive season the NYC had to go around the country to ensure that departments had bought into the NYS. They had to be sure to visit the sites that saw active youth involvement. Such activities had to be resourced.
Prof Asmal noted that 60% of the expenditure went towards administration and said that the Committee would have to determine whether that amount was too little, too much or average.
Ms D Smuts (DA) was interested in what the latest national age profile was.
Mr Modiba said that close to 40% of the total population was made up of youth, that is, 14-35 year olds. More significantly about 60% of the continent’s populating could be classified as youth. At the recent 5th African Development summit it was stressed that youth development needed to be intensified since young people formed part of an important constituency vis a vis the overall demography of the continent.
Prof Asmal said that one of the members of the Committee had wondered whether the percentage of youth in South Africa was not perhaps greater than the 40% the NYC had earlier indicated. Age distribution was an important factor when considering the importance of the youth commission.
Ms Smuts struggled to understand how the NYC was distinguishable from government. The NYC even sat in the government ministerial clusters nowadays. The National Youth policy they were coordinating was a government policy. In their responses they had said that they advanced government’s agenda. Although under their statute they were a commission and as such separate from government, she had the impression that they were totally integrated with it and were taking forward government policy. National Treasury encouraged each department to integrate certain aspects, thus further creating the impression that the NYC was deeply integrated with government.
Mr Modiba explained that the role of the NYC was to influence amongst others the focus, programmes and expenditure of government. Consistent with this role they had to attend meetings and bring youth-specific issues to the fore. Some of the recent social cluster discussions for example were in relation to integrating the NYS programme with key government programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme. It was the NYC’s responsibility to give data and other scientific information that could facilitate the proper integration of these youth developmental interventions.
He denied that the NYC was an extension of government. The legislation stated that the NYC was located within the Office of the President, thus the NYC had an executing authority in the President and was accountable to him. Its role and responsibility were to investigate and motivate for the adequate integration of youth development into government programmes.
Prof Asmal pointed out that the Inter Departmental Committee was not really working effectively because departments sent very junior officials to represent them. He wondered what role the NYC played, considering that it had succeeded in setting up youth desks within departments.
Ms Nkondlo responded that, as the legislation stated, the NYC had a responsibility to promote uniformity across government departments as far as youth development was concerned. The NYC had advocated for the establishment of the youth desks because they were of the understanding that departments had a responsibility to provide services to the entire spectrum of the community. The NYC’s responsibility was to ensure that the youth sector was prioritised. The desks were an interface. At the end of the day, the NYC had to be able to get information about this and monitor that what was budgeted for, was discharged.
Ms Tshoane explained that the presence of youth desks in certain departments did not necessarily mean that youth development was coordinated across them. The youth desks focussed on youth development within their own departments. The NYC’s role was to ensure coordination between what was done within departments and the private sector. Youth desks might not necessarily do the monitoring and evaluation either. In order to ensure that youth development indicators were in place, the NYC assessed departments. She did not think that there was any other institution that played such a coordinating role.
Prof Asmal presumed that as the national body charged with overseeing youth matters, the NYC was not merely coordinating, but also giving leadership.
Ms Smuts asked in what way the NYC played a unique role. They planned to undertake a scientific study on the status of youth in the country but she wondered whether this was not already being done by other departments. The NYC had compiled a database of existing research, but that also had clearly already been done. Furthermore they said that they made sure that mechanisms to promote access of information to the youth were in place and that they increased the profile of programmes such as the NYS. Surely these functions were already being performed by the Government Communication and Information System. Ms Smuts’ attention had particularly been caught by the claim that the NYC monitored and evaluated the impact of the government’s social economic programme and the extent to which it reduced youth vulnerability. The first thing that sprang to her mind was AIDS orphans and child-headed households. She asked what the NYC had done differently with regard to these issues.
She also noted that the NYC were now consulting youth organisations and was curious as to which ones they had approached and requested that at some stage they might provide the Committee with a list of these organisations. She was interested in determining whether the NYC was an independent body that consulted youth organisations from across the board.
Ms Nkondlo responded that the NYC through the Youth Convention aimed to take the process into the provinces so that they could also participate. Provincial summits attended by youth organisations were held prior to the national convention in July 2006. A list of the ones that had been invited could be forwarded to the Committee.
The NYC was currently working on broadening and revising their database so as to ensure that they created broader youth participation. Using this database they would ensure that those organisations that had not been invited would be included in future interactions. The website allowed all youth organisations to register so that they could become part of the NYC database and could participate in developing policies and have input into the NYC’s activities.
Mr S Dithebe (ANC) sought clarity on why there was a youth desk in the Presidency that existed side by side with the Commission which itself was located there. He asked what the difference between the two desks was and whether the NYC had jurisdiction over that particular youth desk.
Mr Modiba responded that the NYC could only speak about their mandate and thus the Presidency was best placed to answer the Member’s question. All he could say was that the NYC’s activities brought it in constant interaction with the youth desk.
Prof Asmal said that the Committee had not heard from the Minister or the President, but said that they would be approached for elucidation of this particular matter. He cautioned however that the NYC could not “perform Pontius Pilate acts” all the time. He reminded them that the legislation required the NYC to promote uniformity of approach by all organs of state and wondered how the two similar structures coexisted. He felt that it was fair to question the relationship that existed between them.
Ms Johnson said that at the end of 2006 the NYC had reported to Parliament's Joint Monitoring Committee on Youth, Children and People with Disabilities (JMC) that they had only one researcher. Given that restraint, she wondered what kind of research the NYC had done and what research it planned to undertake in 2006.
Prof Asmal added that research was very expensive and that there were many state institutions that did it either on contract or “as an act of solidarity”. He wondered why the NYC then wished to set up a larger research entity.
Ms Nkondlo explained that their mandate required that when the NYC spoke on youth matters it was well informed to do so. Since many others were involved in research activities and the NYC had only one researcher, they had taken the decision to coordinate their work with that of other researchers. In two weeks they would have a research lekgotla to discuss how this plan could be streamlined and implemented.
Prof Asmal pointed out that the NYC’s budget was about a fifth of that of a university that catered for 14 000 students and employed 180 academics. He wondered whether in a developmental state such as South Africa, they were getting value for money from the NYC. Much research was being done. South Africa’s Constitution was the only one that that had an entire section dedicated to children. There was also the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every two or three years South Africa had to compile a report in response to that convention. Likewise reports were compiled for the convention on the rights of women, convention on race and discrimination and the convention on torture. He wondered whether the NYC had ever seen a South African government report on children, on women or on torture, that had been submitted to the United Nations? He wondered whether the NYC as a body charged to look after the interests of young people had ever seen and commented on the value of these reports.
Receiving no response from members of the NYC delegation, Prof Asmal continued and expressed the hope that the NYC would stop updating their mandate and undertake to scrutinise Government behaviour and activity. He would support research being done on this and would ask National Treasury to give them a bit more money so that they could scrutinise government reports. This would be an important activity as the reports related to South Africa’s external face.
Dr T Delport (DA) noted that the NYC worked at focussing the interest of government on specific issues. He wondered what the NYC had done to address the plight of children in prisons, street children, and orphaned families. He was curious about how they had used their position to influence government to focus on the problems encountered in a developing country. He asked where he could find any documentation or memoranda in this regard.
Ms Nkondlo responded that the information was available and that members could have access to it. She explained that while the NYC previously sat only in the social cluster, it now made presentations to and sat in numerous government clusters. It made presentations around issues they felt were youth related. Commissioner van Rooyen headed the interactions with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster which was currently addressing matters related to youth in prisons.
Prof Asmal wondered whether the NYC had been “virtuous privately”. He stressed the importance of press statements and the publication of submissions to cluster committees. This contributed to the NYC’s public face and visibility about the youth issues that had been raised. He requested that any such information be forwarded to the Committee.
Commissioner van Rooyen said that in 2006 a conference had been held after research was done into youth that were in conflict with the law. The NYC had worked with all national departments in releasing the report. One of the issues that had been highlighted was reintegrating such youth into society. The second critical issue was the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programmes. There was a large percentage of recidivism which meant that many times intervention programmes within correctional facilities were not effective. Young men and women often returned to prison.
Another critical issue was reintegration. This was one of the big challenges and affected both business and government. The NYC was working on a strategy and would be presenting it to the JCPS cluster. They would present the idea that young people who had committed minor crimes should be placed in youth centres rather than in correctional facilities. They would then be trained in life, leadership, skills that would assist their successful reintegration.
He felt that it was critical to find an answer for why so many young people were in conflict with the law. One also had to investigate what drew and kept street children on the street. The NYC had over the festive season successfully recruited about 11 000 young people to the NYS, to render voluntary service.
Prof Asmal said that he had the impression that the NYC did an enormous amount of work in workshops, conferences and clusters – it virtually functioned like a government department. This was not what they were meant to do.
He said that he belonged to an organisation that looked after street children and everyone knew what was drawing them to the streets. He had discussed the matter with the Chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee and they agreed that, apart from unemployment, drugs and alcohol abuse was the biggest problem facing young people. He would have thought that this would have been an area around which the NYC was campaigning vigorously as this was destroying the heart of the youth. Instead they were undertaking study tours to Dresden and making cluster analyses.
He added that there was no evidence that the NYC had ever run a campaign and wondered whether they had ever thought that part of their function was to “tread on the toes of government departments”. He hoped that in their programme management they might use some of their R20 million budget to run a campaign on drug abuse, or child abuse or the abuse of young women under the age of twenty. This would give real dynamism to the Commission.
Mr J van der Merwe (IFP) commented that there was a perception that the commission would have to rebut – many people thought that they were too involved in conferences, workshops etc to pay attention an get involved in the practicalities of problems. They merely talked but did not attack the issues that effected the youth.
Ms Nkondlo was aware that there was a perception that the NYC had to run programmes on issues that affected the youth. She said that the NYC had over time been able to influence the work done by the departments. Through their interaction with the departments they made sure that issues were addressed. The NYC also zoomed in on departmental and government priorities.
She added that while departments ran visible programmes, the NYC’s involvement was behind the scenes. Yet at the end of the day it was the departments that got all the credit. She acknowledged that one of the challenges facing the NYC was ensuring that their work was profiled. They were revamping their website to make it more interactive.
Prof Asmal interrupted Ms Nkondlo and said that the Committee required very precise responses. The legislation required the NYC to implement measures to redress the past in relation to various disadvantages suffered by the youth. Implementation did not mean attending meetings or addressing clusters and government departments. Section 8 required the NYC to monitor and review policies and practices of organs of state. This too had to be done publicly as in the case of the activities of the Auditor General.
He said that in terms of the new regulations for annual reports, every government and statutory body had to list a set of deliverables. Members were interested in what the NYC’s deliverables were and what measures had been put in place to meet these objectives. He asked the NYC to supply the Committee with these deliverables that showed that they had - in accordance with the legislation - implemented measures to redress the imbalances of the past. These were not evident from the annual reports and wondered if there were any public reports on these issues.
The NYC had to review the policies and practices of anybody or institution as far as they affected the youth. There should be investigation about what departments had done about youth issues. For example, he wondered what the NYC was doing about labour and the legislation around youth employment.
Mr Modiba replied that if one looked at the Act, the provision of a framework for youth development was central to the monitoring and evaluation role.
Prof Asmal agreed that monitoring and evaluation was mentioned but pointed out that there was also talk of implementation. He suggested that when working on their programme of action they considered Section 3 (e) of the Act.
Ms Tshoane explained that the NYC had decided to pilot programmes which were later handed over to the departments. One such programme involved young people living with HIV/Aids giving motivational talks at correctional facilities in order to educate the young people there that one could live with HIV. Measures were then put in place to hand the programme over to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) but, because the NYC and the DCS had not developed terms of reference, the programme had never progressed.
Another such programme for the NYS was about to be implemented. They would adopt one or two municipalities in which to implement the NYS to demonstrate best practice. After a period of time it would be discharged to the municipalities.
Prof Asmal said that the Committee would like to know what the broad objects and priorities were. These were political questions and related to the rebuilding of South Africa. Government departments had to reflect their priorities and deliverables in their annual reports which were later interrogated to see whether they had met their objectives. If the Committee were to report to Parliament that the commissions were effective they would have to report on their deliverables. The Committee thus looked forward to getting the revised programme of action long before June when the Committee’s mandate would be concluded. Parliament's Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) could then consider its deliverables the following year. The Committee would note that the NYC would forward this information. He added that it was not necessary for each new commission that took office to develop its own programme of action. Their term lasted only three years, and developing a programme of action each time would take too long.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked the NYC for clarity on what was entailed in their flagship programmes and how far these had progressed.
Ms Tshoane responded that the flagship programmes were the NYS programme, the Young People – Living Ambassadors programme, the Youth Unemployment Learnership programme and the Youth in Conflict with the Law programme. With the review of the National Youth policy, the flagship programmes might change. Issues such as information communication technology and the environment, might be discussed too.
Ms Johnson noted that the NYC felt that its enabling legislation was not empowering them as it "did not provide any means of recourse for deviation or negligence on matters of youth development”. She believed that the NYC could refer to Chapter 3 of the Constitution if they felt that they were not getting cooperation. Did the NYC feel that there was lack of cooperation from government departments or was it that there was something wrong with the legislation?
Prof Asmal wondered why they might feel that they needed changes to the law to be more effective.
Mr Modiba responded that the mandate of the Youth Policy Development Framework would come an end in March. The NYC had identified this as a window of opportunity to develop a policy that would be more effective. The current framework had limitations because it was not enforceable. Government departments were not compelled to implement it.
Prof Asmal pointed out that there was no commission in the world whose reports were implementable immediately. If this were the case, it would mean that commissions had executive power. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) produced extraordinary reports and reviewed the performance of departments. This too was a political question and related to being visible in the pubic eye.
He wondered what their response to the non-cooperation from entities was. He had never heard of this challenge they were faced with. He said that they had to dispose of the idea that they ought to have the power to take government departments to court. Did they not think that there were other ways of ensuring observance of the legislation and their recommendations.
Mr Modiba responded that the NYC felt strongly that they should lobby towards the adoption of a youth policy. The African Union recommended that such a policy be adopted and some African states had already adopted such. The NYC did not see why South Africa could not do the same. Through such a policy, one would be able to ensure that government departments prioritised youth matters. While departments did have desks dedicated to youth development, they were not given the serious stature that the NYC had been “agitating” for. Once a policy was in place, departments would be measured against it. The NYC was of the view that this would improve its functioning.
The Chairperson said that under Section 12, the NYC was required to report to the President every year. They however reported to the Minister in the Office of the Presidency which was very different. He wondered if the Commission could indicate whether they had, in the last ten years, written a report to the President, saying that they were not getting cooperation from departments.
Mr Modiba responded that the new Commission believe that in the six months they had been in office, they had already begun to turn the tide. They had set up the inter-ministerial committee on the NYS programme, which was attended by the majority of cabinet ministers. The NYC received reports, it monitored, evaluated and directed at that level. They were confident that despite shortcomings as far as cooperation, the NYC had started a process that was turning the tide as far as prioritisation and compliance with the framework was concerned.
Mr van der Merwe wondered why the NYC did not report uncooperative departments to the President or to the Public Protector. Prof Asmal added that they could also be reported to Parliament's Joint Monitoring Committee.
Ms Nkondlo said that since they had come to office, they had had two meetings with Parliament's JMC. Amongst others they had discussed how the JMC could assist the NYC in resolving some of the challenges such as non cooperation from departments. The NYC had said that greater assistance from the JMC would enhance the Commission’s work.
She explained that the NYC had been submitting reports to Minister Pahad as per the requirements. They normally met with him on a monthly basis to raise some of the challenges. They had considered to what extent his Office would be able to assist the NYC in leveraging the effect of their work. She thought it would be useful if all cabinet ministers could attend the inter-ministerial committee so that they could ensure that their officials prioritise youth development.
Prof Asmal said that in June the Committee would recommend that the JMC should have discussions with the NYC around the new national youth policy, so that all these issues could “be publicly ventilated”. There was legislation before the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Portfolio Committee which affected young people and the Committee looked forward to the NYC’s presentation on that. According to reports he received, the NYC had appeared only before the Joint Monitoring Committee and Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).
He said that one of the things the Committee aimed to answer was whether Parliament was effectively performing its functions for Chapter 9 and associated bodies. According to the 2005/2006 report, the NYC appeared before the Joint Monitoring Committee only twice. He felt that this seemed a little bit light-hearted. Most bodies appeared before portfolio committees to get publicity to further their causes and to draw attention to the obstacles and difficulties they faced. He said that the “shame factor” was perfected in portfolio committees – departments were shamed into changing and taking action.
The Committee would therefore be recommending that the NYC’s interaction with the Joint Monitoring Committee and some portfolio committees be stepped up. It would be important for the NYC to meet with the Education Portfolio Committee to discuss issues on further education and training. The Committee would also look forward to the NYC’s review of the sector education and training authorities (SETAs) and if they were meeting the employment needs of young people. He emphasised that the Committee wanted to know what the NYC would do to enhance their employment objectives. He added that better interaction with the parliamentary committees would be in the NYC’s best interest, especially since the press always attended these meetings when sensitive matters were being discussed. He could not think of anything more sensitive than the NYC’s interaction with government departments.
Ms Johnson noted that the NYC had taken the lead in reviewing the national youth policy. It was up for completion in March 2007. She wondered how that process was progressing, and what challenges they had had to face.
Ms Tshoane reminded the Committee that in 2006 the NYC had had a policy review convention at which young people discussed a number of issues that affected them. In developing the new National Youth Policy, all the issues they had raised would be taken into consideration. The NYC had interviewed some consultants who would assist in writing up the policy. There was also a working group comprising policy experts, researchers and youth organisations. The working group had so far met once and had just presented a brief on how they would do the policy review. In February they would be doing sectoral consultations so that all stakeholders could make input into the policy.
Mr S Simmons (UDSA) noted that the NYC had no jurisdiction over provincial and local government youth structures. He wondered how they would overcome this challenge.
Ms Nkondlo said that the NYC was aware of this challenge. Through advocacy they tried to ensure that these offices were also present in the provinces. At present they had youth commissions in all the nine provinces. The limitation related to the fact that these offices were established via their own provincial acts. This limited the integration of their work with that of the NYC. They had managed to establish the chairpersons’ forum whereby they had a measure of working coordination. The NYC had done much advocacy for the localisation of youth development. This was where services were needed.
Prof Asmal said that one of the weaknesses of the questionnaire was that the Committee had omitted to ask about the details of the provincial sections. He asked if the delegation had details related to the composition and budget of these bodies. The Committee could not talk about the NYC without referring to the provincial bodies too.
Ms Nkondlo replied that they would collate the information and send it to the Committee immediately. She agreed that the work of the NYC could not be reviewed without considering the work of the provincial commissions. The NYC met with premiers too.
Prof Asmal said that the Committee may have to call one or two of the provincial commissions to appear before it to assess what these bodies did in terms of deliverables. Although the NYC had contact with the premiers, the Committee was interested in what was being delivered on the ground. He noted that there appeared to be some kind of confidential assessment and appointment system of which there were many anecdotal stories. He asked the delegation to provide the Committee with its assessment and appointment system. He assured them that this information would remain confidential.
Ms Johnson said that the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, the National Youth Service had their functions and the NYS unit shared similar functions. She wondered whether this did not amount to a duplication of functions.
Ms Nkondlo denied that there was any duplication of functions. The NYS was conceptualised to eventually be discharged through other stakeholders. The national youth service unit was the implementing entity of the NYS. Umsobomvu funded some of the initiatives of young people on the ground. The NYC utilised its own mandate to ensure that the programme was properly coordinated and monitored. There was also a Partnership Project Team which the Presidency was supposed to convene. The National Youth Service Unit was supposed to account to that strategic leadership. The work was happening and the NYC was supposed to make sure that every time they went to departments, they advocated for the unlocking of opportunities for the NYS so that if young people were recruited, programmes could be implemented.
Mr Dithebe noted that there had been talk of the need to develop a national youth development agency of sorts. He wondered if such an agency would be developed and if it would have to exist aongside the NYC?
Mr Modiba replied that the notion of the National Youth Development Agency was a product of the work the NYC had undertaken in response to the expiry of the Youth Development Framework in March. They sought to solicit the views of youths and to undertake certain other processes that would culminate in their taking policy direction. The discussions emanating from the convention was that there should be a merger between the Commission and Umsobomvu to give greater impetus to the implementation capacity of whatever machinery they would eventually have in operation.
Subsequently there had also been a report from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) that looked at the same matter but that had come to a different conclusion. As Ms Tshoane had indicated a Working Group had been set up and they had been charged with investigating all these issues. The Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) had also been commissioned research on the youth budget which would have implications on for instance the structural arrangements. Other processes were also being undertaken and would talk to constitutional realities. All contributions would be considered and a single direction as far as the constitutional direction would be selected. It would be premature to comment now as there was no formal position yet. The matter had been discussed at the convention and they were in the process of collating all the opinions on the future of youth development in the country vis a vis institutional arrangements.
Prof Asmal wondered whether this explanation meant that the NYC had accepted, in principle that a merger may result in a higher standard of activities. Had they accepted that there might be a case for a merger and that they were now looking at how it would be implemented?
Mr Modiba replied that they were considering the pros and the cons. Their responsibility was to evaluate them. Umsobomvu was a specialised institution that dealt with a specific aspect of development and had established a niche for itself.
Prof Asmal read a 2006 statement that he thought had been made by an official of the Commission, Mr Sello More. The statement read:
“Currently there was a lack of comprehensive youth policy in South Africa. The current broad policy management has no specific measurable achievable or realistic goals against which we could measure what we achieved or failed to achieve. Youth practices are normally not documented in South Africa. We are working in silos. There is no proper integration particularly among the structures and institutions of government.”
Prof Asmal thought that this was most severe and asked the delegation to comment.
Ms Nkondlo put on record that Mr Sello More had been the NYC’s researcher who had left the NYC for “greener pastures”. She felt that the comment was appropriate. As one spoke of championing youth development and empowering young people, there was excitement, commitment and the will to centralise and prioritise youth development so as to champion the cause and to empower young people. Nevertheless the challenge of ensuring that an integrated approach was followed, remained. It would not be possible to put processes in place effectively, if there was no integration.
The NYC had also looked at their own approach and considered to what extent they had utilised their mandate effectively in performing their task. As an institution, the NYC had to be honest and admit that it had at times succumbed to the pressure and challenges existing within youth development. It had also at times deviated from its mandate. The institution had to ensure that it aligned itself and ensured that integration started internally. Further they had to ensure that the work envisioned at national level was communicated to provincial and local structures. They also had to consider how they used the Presidency, in which they were located. She added that young people had to organise themselves too because the responsibility could not be placed on commissioners and the NYC only. The review would identify these gaps so that they could move forward successfully.
Prof Asmal presumed that in two years' time the Commission might make a self evaluation and not leave it to the researcher to do so. He nevertheless thought it a very honest evaluation.
Ms Tshoane added that the reason the NYC had advocated for that statement to be made was because the youth policy had never been adopted. Two years after its development, a youth policy framework was developed and adopted instead. It was problematic to develop a policy framework when one did not have a policy. The framework that was adopted did not contain any indicators for measuring progress. The policy would not be complete if there was no strategy attached to it. Such a strategy should have indicators with timeframes and should show who would be responsible for implementing it.
The Chairperson wondered whether there was any inhibiting factor that prevented the NYC from taking the initiative and taking charge of the Youth Policy.
Mr Modiba explained that the policy had to be adopted by Cabinet. The NYC could only lobby for the adoption. They had undertaken to do just that, had tested the waters and it “seemed quite favourable.”
Prof Asmal realised that the final decision lay with Cabinet, what he was interested in was whether there was any factor that might affect them giving input on the matter.
Mr Modiba said that there was nothing inhibiting their input. The NYC would be drafting the policy and presenting it to Cabinet. This had been the process they followed in 2000 too, but then the policy had not been adopted.
Moving to the NYC’s collaboration with other bodies, Prof Asmal noted that they claimed that most of their interaction was with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). He requested written documentation of this interaction. He asked the delegation to elaborate on the synergies they said existed between themselves and other Chapter 9 bodies. In reply to Question 3 of the questionnaire, the NYC had indicated that there was no overlap with these bodies. He thought that this could not be the case and could see the NYC overlapping with the SAHRC, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities and even the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB). He suggested that the NYC reconsider the statement that there was no overlap. Considering that young women between the ages of fourteen and twenty were the most vulnerable in society, he wondered what was the NYC’s interaction with the CGE and SAHRC in particular?
Mr Dithebe added that it appeared that the legislation envisioned coordination between bodies.
Ms Tshoane clarified that the response indicated the extent to which there had been interaction so far. They had had some meetings with the CGE as well as the SAHRC. Youth Development issues were also human rights issues after all. There was a lot of overlap and the NYC had considered how it could establish collaboration. She admitted that the interaction with these two bodies had ended at a very preliminary stage and that no programme of interaction had been established. They hoped that they would engage with these bodies more in the course of their policy review.
The Chairperson wondered if they could give the Committee a statement of what had transpired when they met with the CGE.
Ms Nkondlo said that they had met with the Deputy Chairperson of the SAHRC and that the minutes of that meeting were available. Programme officers would be sent to investigate and develop a joint programme around youth and human rights issues. They would be certain to follow up on the discussions they had had with other bodies.
Prof Asmal pointed out that unless budgetary needs were met, very little coordination would take place. The legislation nevertheless required coordination and he added that there was strength in coordination. He wondered what the NYC had done, in coordination with the SAHRC, as far as drug abuse, which was the biggest violation of the dignity of young people, or child abuse. He assured them that this question would be put to the SAHRC too as they were the older body and as such had to take initiative for coordinating their activities.
Prof Asmal noted the NYC’s response to Question 15 which referred to institutional governance arrangements. He asked them to elaborate on how the secretariat’s work sometimes overlapped into the political sphere. He also wondered what the institutional arrangements were between the Commissioners who were appointed by the President and its Secretariat.
Ms Tshoane said that at times it was difficult to draw the line between the political and secretariat level.
Prof Asmal commented that that then represented a gap in the institutional arrangements. The NYC was the ultimate, responsible body, while the Secretariat were the servants within it. There should not be a political overlap. The Secretariat had no mandate to speak on policy matters unless they did so with the approval of the Commission. If there was overlap it was an indication that their institutional arrangements were not entirely foolproof. The Committee would thus recommend that institutional arrangements had to be foolproof. He added that in some of the commission these concerns were much more serious. The effectiveness of the institutions was ultimately determined by the relationship of the commissioners and its secretariat.
Prof Asmal wondered what happened if there was a conflict between commissioners or a commissioner and the Chairperson? Such cases could not be left to Human Resources to resolve or mediate.
Commissioner Sipuko said that he was assigned to dealing with human resource matters and addressed such cases. The NYC took the decision to actively participate in the work of the Secretariat so there was deployment from the Executive Committee to the Secretariat. He added that other than these measures they adhered to the legal framework within which all disputes had to be resolved.
Prof Asmal appreciated the clarification. He had assumed that the Human Resource Director was a power unto himself. Problems that could not be resolved at Human Resource level were thus dealt with by the Commission itself. The ultimate authority was the Commission, but if there were problems between the Commissioners and the Chairperson, the matter was taken to the Presidency.
Ms Johnson wondered whether the NYC wanted the Committee to look into the fact that there was no continuity in the appointment of the Commissioners.
Ms Nkondlo agreed that the discontinuity was a problem. The new commission started its work immediately after the outgoing commissioners ended theirs. No handover process that would aid transition was in place. She felt that this was related to resource allocation too. It might also result in a backlog as far as programmes were concerned since new commissioners had to take time to familiarise themselves with the work they were expected to perform.
A difficult handover process also affected the stability of the institution as the Secretariat was now tasked with explaining the internal systems to the new commissioners. There were also issues related to the culture the new commissioners would be bringing into the NYC. If one wanted to improve the efficiency of the NYC and its internal governance, a creative solution needed to be found.
Prof Asmal commented that Parliament was at fault in recommending new commissioners and allowing for no continuity. The Committee felt that in the interest of institutional culture there had to be continuity. This could be done in different ways. One such was that the outgoing commissioners wrote a document detailing the problems, challenges and processes of the institution. He noted that since the entire commission had been replaced, the process had to have been particularly difficult.
Ms Nkondlo explained that the Deputy Commissioner was on the previous Commission too and thus assisted with the handover. Additional measures had to be put in place however. When this Commission left office in 2009, a proper hand-over method needed to be place.
Ms Johnson noted that the Annual Report spoke of a large number of vacancies and lack of human resources and she wondered whether the staff turnover was quite high.
Mr van Rooyen replied that when the Commission had taken office there had been certain vacancies. They had decided to hold off making appointments until they had completed the realignment of the structure with the strategy and the mandate. All vacancies should be filled by February.
Prof Asmal said that the NYC had not given them the full staff complement of the institution. This should be supplied as soon as possible along with vacancies and salary levels. This information was very important in the light of the fact that 60% of the budget was spent on administration.
Ms Rajbally noted that there were vacancies at some very integral levels and wondered what impact these vacancies had on the NYC’s activities.
Commissioner van Rooyen replied that they had put a strategy in place to address the gap left by these vacancies. They had appointed people who were acting in those positions. The Presidency’s financial department was providing the necessary assistance. Price Waterhouse Coopers had been appointed to assist as well. The NYC had experienced some challenges but had to date had no difficulties in meeting their obligations.
Mr van der Merwe asked if the salaries reflected were all inclusive or whether there were any extras. He also wondered whether Commissioners were appointed on a full-time basis. What function did the NYC’s Deputy Director Parliamentary Officer perform?
Mr Modiba confirmed that commissioners were appointed on a full-time basis. They had a system for administering telephone cost for each office. Apart from that there were no additional things beyond normal administrative costs. The Parliamentary Officer was meant to be the link between the NYC and Parliament. She observed debates and advised the Commission about their contribution to these debates. He admitted that in the past they had not optimally used this position but he insisted that it was a useful office. Part of the problem was that it was located within the communication unit and did not have a direct link to the research, policy and programmes unit. It was being migrated to the appropriate office so that it could be optimally utilised.
Prof Asmal said that to have the position was up to their executive discretion. His experience was that unless the parliamentary officer had specific functions it was the “most depressing demobiliser”. He wondered what the Parliamentary Liaison Officer did when Parliament was not in session. The Committee felt that these officials should have clear line functions. He added that they were deployed at great cost to the NYC. In addition the level of the position was low, while the expectations were high.
Mr van der Merwe wondered if Commissioners had any car allowances.
Commissioner van Rooyen said that the media had “made a big fuss” around the salary packages of commissioners. Salary packages were not determined by the commissioners but according to guidelines provided by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). The notion that commissioners determined their own salaries was untrue. He added that if one earned R500 000, 60% of that amount was taxable. The other 40% included medical aid, housing, car allowances and so on.
Mr van der Merwe noted that there was a director and deputy director of communications. He very seldom saw anything related to the NYC in the media and wondered whether the communication referred to internal communication or also to the media.
Mr Modiba admitted that the NYC had found that because communications was such an important aspect, they needed to improve the efficiency of that unit. Part of the problem was that unless they were dealing with sensational issues, the media tended to underreport on the various NYC interventions. It was the NYC’s responsibility to build relationships with the media fraternity. He conceded that the director for communications had not assumed the status of spokesperson or political communicator of the NYC. Communications was a broad area that included campaigning and branding for instance. The NYC needed a dedicated spokesperson who would deal with the political issues attended to at the Executive Committee level.
Prof Asmal pointed out that the Committee had not seen the visible effects that would justify the two positions Mr van der Merwe had referred to.
Ms M Matsomela (ANC) wondered what other sources of funding the NYC had.
Ms Nkondlo explained that the budget was allocated by National Treasury. Through partnerships like the one with the Flemish government, additional monies were received. They were looking at how they could enhance their resource mobilisation so that they could do more programmes. The partnerships they had structured had assisted in ensuring that when they had to embark on a programme they had financial assistance.
Prof Asmal said that according the Auditor General the state allocated R15, 3 million in 2005/06 and that the total budget was R17, 7 million. This meant that an amount of R2, 4 million was received from external arrangements. He asked them to supply the Committee with information on who apart from the Flemish provided them with funds. He had also not been aware that they had guidelines for determining salaries and that the DPSA was involved. This was not fair to any commission. In all other areas portfolio committees spent hours looking at salaries.
Ms Matsomela referred to the commission’s response to the question on their relationship with the public. They had responded that the NYC was not designed to implement programmes but to advise government on issues of youth development. This was contradictory to the provisions of the Act.
Prof Asmal said that the implementation programme was causing problems. Their responses as far as their statutory rights were concerned, were incomplete.
Ms Nkondlo responded that the NYC was of the opinion that youth development was a cross cutting function and that there were already resources allocated to departments which were implementing programmes. They did not think that it was viable for them to get involved in implementation in the way departments did. The NYC undertook flagship programmes so as to arrive at best practices. These were then handed over to departments who had huge budgets which could be used for implementation.
Prof Asmal referred to three media articles that had appeared in the last six months. He wondered how the assertion that everything was under control could be reconciled with the Auditor General’s statement that there was a lack of budgetary control. There were also reports that because call centres functioned with only four councillors it was difficult to respond to calls and that information given to youth was often not very detailed.
Mr van Rooyen said that he stood by his statement because the Commission had in the last six or so months put corrective measures in place. They looked at the risk management report they had received from PWC and had put certain measures of control in place. They had weekly management meetings where directors were required to report on how they spent their budgets. These were controlled and measured against their strategy. A director of communication would for instance launch a communication strategy but before the budget was approved that directorate’s budget was scrutinised to see whether it had sufficient funds to successfully launch a campaign. They had also put in place a fraud prevention strategy and were not shying away from the challenges but were dealing with them. He reiterated that matters were under control.
Prof Asmal said that in a few months they would see what the Auditor General’s audit opinion was. The Auditor General’s previous audit report also indicated that bonuses had been paid in 2006. He wondered, considering the financial state the NYC was in at the time, why bonuses were paid to commissioners.
Mr van Rooyen clarified that the payment of bonuses was in line with the performance management contracts that staff signed in accordance with the guidelines received from the DPSA. In line with those requirements, performance management reviews took place and bonuses were paid accordingly.
Prof Asmal pointed out that commissioners were not public servants but ad hoc appointees by Parliament and anomalous. They were not bound by public service regulations. As a minister he had refused to approve performance bonuses across the board if there had been no improvement in the department. He wondered how a performance bonus of R21 000 could be paid to an accounting officer, when there had been a loss of R600 000. He urged the Commission not to try and justify the bonuses but to supply the Committee with an explanation.
Mr Modiba explained that bonuses were not decided by the Commission. There were a number of things that had been picked up and tilted towards being irregular. The CEO who had resigned had not been paid what was due to him yet because they had picked up “certain irregular activities”. They were conducting investigations and the executive committee had taken the decision to appoint forensic officers. There were specific instances where stricter controls needed to be exercised.
Ms Johnson wondered whether commissioners were allowed to have outside business interests and if they had to disclose when they did.
Prof Asmal wanted to know where the register of disclosures was kept. He felt that a register should be mandatory as was the case with all civil servants. The Committee would later in the year make recommendations as far as disclosures were concerned when they worked on the institutional arrangements for the oversight of these bodies. Commissioners as public figures had to disclose.
Ms Smuts added that for her it was unacceptable that in cases where there was a conflict of interest, commissioners were ‘discouraged’ from bidding for contracts. They should not be allowed to bid at all.
Prof Asmal said that this was not only Ms Smuts’ view but that of the entire Committee. If there was a conflict of interest, one could not participate but had to make a disclosure and then remove oneself from the proceedings. The Committee would give the NYC one month in which to provide them with all disclosures and the dates on which they were was made.
Prof Asmal said that in the past there had been reports that the KwaZulu Natal provincial office was on the verge of collapse and had no administrative capacity, no budget and one small office. In the Eastern Cape, reports said that there was chaos, gross irregularities, no accounting officer, suspension of the chair and expulsion of a commissioner. These were omitted from the responses. The Committee wanted an evaluation of these matters because the legislation said that they could coordinate activities. He charged the NYC on behalf of the Committee to update the information related to the provinces.
Prof Asmal noted that the 2005/06 Annual Report reflected that seven overseas trips were undertaken. He realised that some of them may have been paid for by the hosts. He questioned what the relevance of visits to Yemen and Bahrain might have been. This question was very important. If there was to be sustained work by the commissioners and the staff, these trips had to be limited to ones that were necessary. He asked how many overseas trips the current Commission had taken in the six months since their appointment. If the trips had been made to assess institutional arrangements in Africa, it would be very good but that was not the case.
Ms Nkondlo responded that when they came into office they found that there were many invitations. Some related to Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) missions. The NYC would consider how these impacted on their work. An international relations strategy was developed and had been adopted.
Some of the trips formed part of cooperation agreements they had with other governments. The one they were on at the time of the joint meeting of this Committee was one such trip. They had to attend a study visit as part of the cooperation agreement with the Flemish government. The study visit took place once a year. Young people from civil society and local government, who worked as youth development officers, took part in the study programme. A commissioner was deployed to work with these youths. All the Commissioners had to participate in the 2006 visit however. They had to discuss the re-design of the cooperation agreement.
The Commission had taken the decision that 60 or 70% of the work should be focussed on the continent. The NYC sat on a standing committee that was trying to convene youth development matters in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Commissioner Modiba had attended the African Development Forum meeting where representatives were expected to explain how far South Africa had come in meeting the millennium development goals. She added that the DFA had expectations that they formed part of their delegations and this expectation sometimes impacted on their work. They would be meeting with the DFA to discuss this matter soon.
Prof Asmal pointed out that the primary function of the bodies had to be in South Africa because that was what they were charged with and nothing should deflect them from that. The Commission therefore had to have a policy about overseas trips. Unnecessary trips impacted on the budget. Considering that salaries and administration took up a large part of their budget, there was not much left for the work they had been designated to do.
Mr Dithebe wanted to know whether there had been instances where external funding had to be returned because the NYC did not have the capacity to spend the money.
Mr van Rooyen replied that to the best of his knowledge no money had ever been returned to the Flemish government due to the NYC’s inability to utilise the funding in line with their priorities.
Prof Asmal noted that they met with the Minister in the Office of the President once a month yet in their reply they said that they could not influence the budget. He wondered why they did not try to use those meetings to influence how the budget was allocated.
Mr van Rooyen explained that unlike departments that submitted their budgets to National Treasury, the NYC submitted theirs to the Presidency who in return put forward a complete budget to National Treasury. They had developed a resource mobilisation strategy that would also look at how to lobby for an increase in their budget.
They were also engaging the private sector (the National Development Agency and the National Lottery) to look at what money they could contribute to the national youth development strategy. He felt that the private sector also had a responsibility to come on board to assist in the development of the country.
Prof Asmal concluded that the members of the Committee came from all different political parties. It was the decision of the majority party not to have a majority in this committee. The Committee did not act in a partisan or party political manner. It was in the national interest to see that the Chapter Nine and associated bodies, which were uniquely South African, met their terms of reference and other obligations. The Committee had learnt a great deal in the three hour session they had had and had not come to any conclusions. They may ask the NYC to return should there be other questions. If there were a second meeting, it might not necessarily be an open meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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