A picture taken on the third day of the youth festival at the Tshwane Events Centre, shows participants fast asleep. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko
A picture taken on the third day of the youth festival at the Tshwane Events Centre, shows participants fast asleep. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Fury over R100m ‘kiss fest’

By Marianne Merten Time of article published Aug 5, 2011

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Opposition parties and their youth organisations say it is shocking that the government – and the taxpayer – carried most of the R100 million costs of last year’s World Festival of Youth and Students.

This comes after the festival’s “close-out report” was tabled in Parliament on Thursday by Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, whose portfolio includes the organiser, the National Youth Development Agency (Nyda).

The report showed that aside from the presidency’s R29m, four premier’s offices paid R1m, the Mpumalanga premier’s office R1.59m and various municipalities jointly contributed over R166 000 (See boxes).

Freedom Front Plus youth spokesman Wouter Wessels said the organisation would study the report thoroughly, but the cost seemed too high, while the benefit was “definitely not worth” R100m.

“It is unacceptable that more than R60m is generated from taxpayers’ money while we are in a situation in South Africa where funds must be made available for service delivery and poverty alleviation.

“It is irresponsible of the government to commit that kind of money,” he said. “The Nyda has a mandate to develop South African youth, not international delegates.”

Cope youth president Nqaba Bhanga said millions of rand had been spent on a conference that was a logistical nightmare, and was referred to as a “kiss fest” due to the large number of participants spotted kissing each other, and sleeping.

“We have many more challenges than hosting a conference that doesn’t even leave a legacy on the streets of Khayelitsha, Thokoza, Umlazi… What was discussed? Imperialism. (But) youth want jobs, youth want funding for education, youth want skills.”

Independent Democrats MP Lance Greyling said it was “absolutely astounding” how use had been made of every sphere of government. “It’s a clear indication of the priorities of this government – and that’s not youth development,” he said. “Clearly political pressure came from the ANC Youth League to force various spheres of government to fund this festival.”

DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said the money should have been better spent.

“Young South Africans are being adversely affected by the slow progress successive ANC administrations have made in improving access to opportunity.

“Rather than devoting more than R100m to host a totalitarian youth event that celebrated Fidel Castro, debated outdated economic policies and conducted mock hearings in an ‘anti-imperialist court’, this government should be devoting its time, energy and political will to addressing the crisis of poverty and unemployment.”

The Nyda was clearly aware of the potential fall-out from the nine-day festival in Pretoria under the theme “Let’s defeat imperialism for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation”.

“It must be noted that due to the interest the festival drew from stakeholders in South Africa, including the media and political parties, greater attention was paid when processing payments,” the report said.

A public outcry followed news that the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund had provided R40m within a very short time, while many charities waited for years for significantly less funding, and the presidency R29m.

The report also reflected a total outstanding amount of R17.8m, which it said would be reflected as a deficit until the outstanding commitments were collected from, among others, “a few provincial governments and national government departments”.

Two service providers are still owed R2.37m.

WHO CHIPPED IN?

* National Government

Presidency: R29m

Arts and Culture Department: R3m

Communications Department: R1.89m

* Provincial Government

Premiers’ offices of Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Limpopo: R1m each

Premier’s office of Mpumalanga: R1.59m

* Local government

Chris Hani District Municipality: R52 000

Cape Winelands, Breede Valley, Knysna, Bitou and Hessequa municipalities: R13 600 each

Oudtshoorn municipality: R12 000

Makhuduthamaga municipality: R10 400

Overberg municipality: R9 600

Beaufort West: R1 600

Batataise municipality: R2 500

* Other

National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund Board: R40m

Delegates’ registration fees: R2.345m

Namibia Youth Council: R191 400

WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?

Catering: R29.9m (R3m for delegates’ breakfasts at the Tshwane University of Technology; Tshwane Events Centre R26.8m)

Travel and accommodation: R24.5m

Event management: R14.08m

Translation services R3.6m

Entertainment and artists: R9.4m

Festival package (T-shirts, caps, branded bags, billboards and banners etc): R8.34m

Stipends and accommodation for 1 200 volunteers: R3.36m

FESTIVAL IN NUMBERS:

15 000 delegates from 126 countries

Tshwane University of Technology provided accommodation at R125 per person and breakfast at R30 per person per day, lunch and dinner cost R50 per meal per person

Nine days from December 13-21, 2010

Two media conferences, 12 media statements and opinion pieces, over 10 radio and TV interviews during the festival

Three media conferences, five media releases, 10 media inquiries and over 30 radio and TV interviews facilitated in the run-up to the festival.- Political Bureau

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