R40m in Lot­tery funds go to jam­boree for ‘glo­ri­fied youth league’ event

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ANDISIWE MAKINANA

THE R40 mil­lion that the na­tional lot­tery has given to the Na­tional Youth Devel­op­ment Agency (NYDA) to or­gan­ise a con­tro­ver­sial youth con­fer­ence is the largest sum the lotto has given to a sin­gle or­gan­i­sa­tion over the past 18 months.

Mean­while, the Na­tional Lot­ter­ies Board has gone to ground and failed to ex­plain why it granted funds for host­ing of a po­lit­i­cal event. Ac­cord­ing to its web­site it is re­quired to dis­trib­ute 45 per­cent of its funds to char­i­ties, 22 per­cent to arts, cul­ture and na­tional her­itage and five per­cent for mis­cel­la­neous pur­poses.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Lot­ter­ies Board’s an­nual re­port for 2009/10, the Na­tional Lot­tery Dis­tri­bu­tion Trust Fund made 2 341 pay­ments amount­ing to R1.94 bil­lion in the pe­riod be­tween April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010.

The sin­gle largest al­lo­ca­tion dur­ing this pe­riod was R24m to Badisa, a so­cial wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion which is an arm of the Dutch Re­for med Church of South Africa.

On Thurs­day, NYDA ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Andile Lungisa re­vealed that the bulk of the fund­ing for the 17th World Fes­ti­val of Youth and Stu­dents, start­ing on Mon­day, would come from a R40m grant from the na­tional lot­tery.

The lotto fund­ing saved the day for the agency, which has been forced to scale down its plans for the nine-day youth fes­ti­val af­ter its ef­forts to raise funds else­where came to noth­ing. It was first given R29m for the fes­ti­val through an in­crease in the Pres­i­dency’s bud­get. The fes­ti­val is held un­der the ban­ner of the World Fed­er­a­tion of Demo­cratic Youth, a left-wing youth or­gan­i­sa­tion.

DA fed­eral youth leader Makashule Gana pointed out in a press state­ment yes­ter­day that the con­tri­bu­tion by the lotto was the largest sin­gle al­lo­ca­tion it had made to any char­ity this year.

“It would ap­pear that in the (Lot­ter­ies) board’s opin­ion, a one-week youth fes­ti­val, cater­ing for in­ter­na­tional del­e­gates who, when not de­bat­ing the finer points of ob­scure ide­o­log­i­cal dis­putes, shall be par­ty­ing and net­work­ing, is more im­por­tant than keep­ing the doors of shel­ters for the home­less open... or fund­ing half-way houses for bat­tered women, or feed­ing the starv­ing, or pre­serv­ing na­tional mon­u­ments.

“All of these causes and more have in com­mon a des­per­ate need for re­sources. Yet they are all lower pri­or­i­ties than a glo­ri­fied ANC Youth League so­cial event,” wrote Gana.

“We fail to see how fund­ing this self-in­dul­gent net­work­ing op­por­tu­nity falls within the purview of the na­tional lot­tery’s re­mit,” said Gana.

“In­deed, even if we con­sid­ered a broader view of the board’s man­date, in ad­di­tion to char­i­ties, its funds are to as­sist sport­ing bod­ies, and arts, cul­ture and her­itage pro­grammes that ben­e­fit all South Africans. As such, there is no room un­der any of the def­i­ni­tion cri­te­ria of its man­date for fund­ing out­landish one-week ex­trav­a­gan­zas that of­fer no ben­e­fit to our cit­i­zens.”

He said it was an in­sult that this “jam­boree” would re­ceive more money in one week than any of the char­i­ties and wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tions had dur­ing the whole of last year.

Gana said the DA would write to Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Rob Davies, who is legally re­quired to ap­prove the fund­ing of “mis­cel­la­neous” pro­grammes, to ask what his cri­te­ria were for grant­ing the NYDA’s request.

The Na­tional Lot­ter­ies Board failed to re­spond to ques­tions af­ter ask­ing that ques­tions be e-mailed to it.

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