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15 December 2010 at 11:10 - Posted by Anonymous

R69m youth festival in shambles


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Delegates from India take a break at the World Festival for Youth and Student at the Tshwane Events Centre. Photo: Etienne Creux

A shambles. That's the state of the National Youth Development Agency's R69-million World Festival of Youth and Students.

The agency received R69 million for its World Festival of Youth and Students, but even on its second day signs of rampant disorganisation, hiccups and widespread chaos were showing.
 
Some local delegates were left stranded at their hotels on Tuesday, others were not given breakfast and several high-profile MPs billed as speakers failed to pitch up.
 
It is understood the company awarded the events management tender had been given only seven weeks to organise the multimillion-rand international event. The eight-day conference, titled Let's Defeat Imperialism, is expected to attract more than 30 000 local and international delegates.
 
Day two of the conference was supposed to see formal discussions on “the right of housing for all, the struggle for youth rights in national parliaments and equality between men and women”.
 
Scheduled to address thousands of international delegates were Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu and Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula as well as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
 
But on Tuesday several ministers said they had not received timeous invitations.
 
Madikizela-Mandela's office said on Tuesday night she had not been “properly invited”.
 
An aide said: “She only received the invite yesterday and that's why she was not at the festival today.”
 
Similarly, Sisulu said she had been given short notice.
 
It is believed Sisulu had already made commitments for the arrival of Angolan president Jose dos Santos who was on his first official State visit to the country.
 
According to officials in Sisulu's office, had the invitation arrived timeously, they could have made arrangements for Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla to attend the event.
 
Om Tuesday morning delegates from the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were reportedly stranded at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) residence where they were staying and had not had breakfast.
 
While some delegates were being accommodated in the residences of TUT, the ANC Youth League's provincial executive committee members were being housed at hotels.
 
The youth agency's disorganisation dates back several months. It was established on Tuesday that the agency had advertised a contract for an events management company only on August 30, giving interested bidders just 10 days to put in proposals. The contract was finally awarded on October 29.
 
According to the government's Tender Bulletin, the contract went to Global Interface Consulting. But Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office records indicate that no such company exists, although there are businesses with similar names.
 
The agency did not respond on Tuesday to questions as to why a non-existent business appeared to have been appointed, or the value of the contract.
 
The agency's request for proposal (RFP) document says the events contractor must plan for 20 000 youth delegates from across the world who are expected to sort out their own travel arrangements but the contractor has to perform a range of duties.
 
“The bidder must clearly demonstrate its ability to provide excellent service that will ensure a successful supply and delivery service,” it says.
 
The agency has been slammed for its extravagant budget, which was at first R400 million.
 
Later, chairman Andile Lungisa said they would be content with R69 million, of which the government contributed R29 million and the National Lottery Board R40 million.
 
Selloane Motloung, company secretary of the National Lottery Board, said on Tuesday the agency would have had an opportunity to analyse and review the event in its entirety after the conference was over and would be expected to account for the money.
 
The board's R40 million grant was awarded in two tranches. The first R24 million was paid on December 10 and the second tranche of R16 million would be paid after the event, on receipt of an audited expenditure report.
 
But Motloung said the second tranche would be released only if the lottery board is satisfied the first payment was used in accordance with the business plan and was fully accounted for.
 
According to the lottery board, the agency had to specify what the requested money would be spent on as a detailed budget was a requirement of the application process.
 
Should it not be able to account for the money, the board would be obliged to institute an investigation and take further action.
 
Messages left for the event's media officers were not returned. Attempts to get lists of the international delegates were not successful. - Cape Times
 
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SIDE NOTE: The production of a low cost house is R70,000 - so for this budget 1000 low cost homes could have been constructed. This could have benefitted 1000 families. And that is only one good use the for this money - instead of wasting it on this festival.
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