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