Attendees are pictured taking a nap during the controversial World Festival of Youth and Students, for which the bill topped R100 million. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko, The Star.
Attendees are pictured taking a nap during the controversial World Festival of Youth and Students, for which the bill topped R100 million. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko, The Star.

R100m Snooze Fest?

By Carien du Plessis and Candice Bailey Time of article published Feb 9, 2011

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The bill for the controversial World Festival of Youth and Students topped R100 million, the organisers have revealed.

Municipalities, provinces and government departments handed over funding in addition to the National Lotteries Board’s controversial R40m donation.

The revelation comes in the wake of the government appealing for funds to help victims of the recent floods that hit several provinces and led to 33 municipalities being declared disaster areas.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which organised the nine-day event held in Pretoria in December, said on Tuesday it was in talks with donors who still owed R17m.

The agency itself owed service providers, including “a couple of hotels”, R7.2m, NYDA chief executive Steven Ngobeni said in Midrand.

A report on the festival, which made headlines after delegates were seen playing kissing games following delays and cancellations of parts of the programme, was submitted by the agency to donors on Tuesday, but not made public.

It details festival spending, including a bill of almost R30m for catering. This works out to around R222 per delegate per day for meals that included polony, bread and an apple for breakfast, and fish and chips, or a chicken leg and thigh with pap, for other meals.

Many delegates ended up buying food at fast food stalls at the venue after complaining that the food served was substandard, or served late.

Ngobeni said caterers who withdrew in the early days of the festival were paid up to the point of their departure. He gave the assurance that the NYDA had not paid twice for any services.

Other costs included:

• R24.5m spent on travel and accommodation for up to 15 000 delegates – 7 000 from abroad and 8 000 from South Africa, including “day delegates”;

•R14m for “event management and operational costs”;

•R3.6m for translation services in three languages, including English;

•R8.3m for branding;

•R1m for advertising;

•R9.5m for entertainment and artists;

•R5.6m for an “outreach programme for international delegates”; and

•R3.4m to pay 1 200 festival volunteers.

The NYDA on Tuesday could not provide a list of all the service providers, many of whom were hired at short notice, but said they were listed in the financial report and that correct procurement procedures had been followed.

Ngobeni said the NYDA had received, in its own account, a total of R100 000 245.42 to fund the festival.

Of this, R29m came from Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane; R40 m from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, of which R16m is still outstanding; R3m from the Department of Arts and Culture; R1.8m from the Department of Communications; R5.5m from the provinces; R3.2m from registration fees; as well as money from various municipalities, which Ngobeni would not name.

The agency also received “other donations and payments”, which are detailed in the financial report submitted to Chabane on Tuesday and to come before MPs in Parliament next week.

None of the NYDA’s own budget of nearly R500m had been used on the festival, which had the theme “Let’s defeat imperialism for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation”.

NYDA chairperson Andile Lungisa said the agency wanted “to dispel the opportunistic notion that the funds spent on the festival were a complete waste and could have been rather spent elsewhere”. He said the money had brought youth from various countries together “to deliberate on critical issues and to network”.

Delegates from Egypt and Tunisia who had attended had led “from the front” in anti-government protests in their countries, while the delegation from South Sudan had “led a spirited campaign” in the referendum that saw a majority of citizens vote to become a separate country, he said.

“The world we live in now is different than 2010” because of the youth festival, Lungisa claimed.

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