DA's Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said President Jacob Zuma, as SADC-appointed mediator to Zimbabwe, must encourage the SADC to use the mechanisms at its disposal to ensure that elections do not go ahead until key democratic reforms have been made.

The DA is “astonished” the presidency has granted an extra R29-

million to the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) for it to host a nine-day student festival themed “Let's defeat imperialism”.

“The National Youth Development Agency is a public entity, mandated to act in an impartial manner, to advance the interests of all of South Africa's youth,” Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said in a statement on Thursday.

“Instead, it is now going to be spending nearly R30-million on a conference being hosted by a radical global youth organisation, of which the ANC Youth League are members.”

The World Festival of Youth and Students has previously been held in Pyongyang, North Korea; Havana, Cuba; and Caracas, Venezuela.

Member parties who made up the event include the Zanu-PF Youth League from Zimbabwe, and the youth league of the Workers' Party of North Korea.

The event would host 60 000 around delegates.

The theme of the year's conference, to be held from December 13

to 21, is “Let's defeat imperialism”, and topics for seminars include “The builders of the anti-imperialist media are fighters against lies and manipulation” and “Solidarity with (North) Korea”.

According to the event's programme, President Jacob Zuma will be attending activities on day four of the event.

“That the state, the presidency and President Zuma himself should be legitimising an event of this nature, and ploughing state resources into it beggars belief and constitutes electioneering at the state's expense,” Trollip said.

The agency's R400-million annual budget could be used to fund initiatives that promise to make a much greater impact on youth development, such as implementing the wage subsidy proposal or instituting a zero-rating of VAT on books.

“President Zuma should disband this R400-million entity, whose only purpose seems to be to placate the ruling party's Youth League.” -

Sapa