Youth agency boasts 15 000 jobs
Johannesburg - The under-fire National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) claimed on Thursday that it has "created or sustained" over 15 000 jobs in the past year.
It also announced elaborate plans for the upcoming year and insisted that it was "successfully addressing issues highlighted by the President during the 2010 state of the nation address".
The statement was released ahead of President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address scheduled for 19:00 on Thursday.
"The NYDA has created or sustained 15 810 jobs mainly through [its] enterprise finance and business development services divisions," said chairperson Andile Lungisa.
He said the divisions offered "business development support services such as bookkeeping, marketing and tendering support" and had issued business loans to the value of R14.2m to 6 089 enterprises since March 2010.
"Through these micro-loans to young people who then go out and employ other people, that's how we have created jobs," he said.
"And also through funding of many community projects like the one in Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal, where young people are selling eggs and chickens at a chicken farm."
Lungisa promised that the organisation would "work towards achieving government's target of bringing unemployment down to 15% by 2020".
The agency announced on Tuesday that the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students, which was held at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria in December, cost R100m to stage instead of the R69m first reported.
There was widespread criticism of the event and what opposition parties called "wasteful expenditure".
The DA Youth and Congress of the People Youth Movement (CopeYM) called for the sacking of the NYDA board.
At the time of the conference it was reported that delegates played "kissing games" when the start of the festival was delayed.
There were also transport problems, some speakers did not arrive, and there were problems with access to food and complaints about caterers not being paid.
According to a programme distributed at the start of the event, ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu were to address thousands of young people from over 100 countries at various sessions.
The organisers said none of the speakers had confirmed their attendance and would not be present.
The agency said it would submit a report to minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane on Tuesday and that all funding could be accounted for. As part of its plan for 2011 the agency said it would improve youth accessibility to its offices.
"The NYDA plans to have Local Youth Offices in all 283 municipalities," Lungisa said.
He said offices had been opened in Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape and in Soweto in Gauteng, the Cape Town office would be relocated to the CBD, and plans were underway to open offices in Klerksdorp in the North West, Welkom in the Free State, Richard's Bay in KwaZulu-Natal and Tzaneen in Mpumalanga.