Shanti Aboobaker

Political Bureau

SPECULATION is rife that National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) board chairman Andile Lungisa is on his way out as Julius Malema-aligned youth leaguers are ditched from the controversial state agency.

Under Lungisa’s leadership, the NYDA has been widely perceived as a conduit for political patronage from the ANC Youth League, with huge amounts of the budget spent on big salaries for the agency’s most senior league-faithful.

Last week as interviews for a new board were under way, sources who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from warring factions told Independent Newspapers of strategies for the composition of the board, which performs a fiduciary monitoring function.

The interviews were conducted by a multi-party joint committee of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

Applicants suggested gender considerations would result in at least three women serving on a board comprising one non-youth leaguer, a minority representative and a civil society representative, leaving the balance of the seven-person board for people aligned to the ANC.

Sources said the three women likely to be nominated for the board, which is appointed by President Jacob Zuma, are Ayanda Bambiso, the head of marketing at Umhlobo Wenene radio and a former SA Students Congress (Sasco) leader; ANC Youth League national executive committee (NEC) member Maropene Ntuli, who has been linked to the Malema faction of the league; and the deputy national chairperson of the IFP Youth Brigade, Zandile Majozi. Ntuli’s closeness to the Malema faction of the league could be a liability, sources said, with the ANC caucus increasingly pushing for a second-term as ANC president for Zuma, despite the party being divided over this.

It is believed Majozi will serve the purpose of gender-parity and bi-partisan representation, leaving an extra place for someone aligned to the ANC and its youth league.

The deputy chairperson of the board, Young Communist League leader Yershen Pillay, is expected to be the “minority nominee”. The Freedom Front Plus, which previously had a member nominated on the NYDA board, declined to nominate anyone from the party during this round.

It has laid a complaint of mismanagement of agency funds with the public protector, who announced two weeks ago that she had appointed a forensic investigator to look into the allegations, FF+ leader Wouter Wessels said last week.

The proposed civil society leader is South African Youth Council (SAYC) president Thulani Tshefuta.

SAYC is the youth representative at Nedlac and on the SA National Aids Council, and comprises all youth civil society and political parties, including the league and the IFP and DA youth organisations.

This leaves two positions open for the board. The two ANC-backed nominees who may be appointed include SAYC-nominee Kenny Morolong, who is a North West ANC provincial executive committee member and provincial spokesman.

The final place is expected to go to Sasco leader and recently co-opted Gauteng ANC Youth League member Methupi Modiba, who is reportedly backed by powerful business interests in the province.

Sources were convinced this would be the next agency board.

“It is likely to succeed on three grounds,” one said.

“Firstly, it is broadly representative. Secondly, it represents the strongest lobby groups behind them, and thirdly, it is based on their performance in the interviews.”

There is a strong reluctance to repeat the perception that the NYDA will be used to fight factional battles within the ANC.

There is one more possible option: a disabilities-lobby representative, who would be Olwethu Sipuka. NYDA-board members will reportedly earn about R30 000 to R40 000 a month, for attending just four meetings a year.

ANC MP Peace Mabe, a member of the interview committee, said the perception that the Youth League might lead the NYDA was incorrect.

“We’ve allowed other youth organisations and non-political party aligned individuals to be part of the NYDA. I don’t know where that perception (of the agency being a vehicle for political patronage) comes from,” Mabe said.

The interviews had been “highly contested”. “We’ve had a number of intelligent, experienced and dynamic young people, from all sorts of backgrounds. The new board will not just be a continuation of the previous board. As to who becomes the chairperson, it is not the prerogative of the ad hoc committee, but of the president,” she said.