National Youth Development Agency chairman Yershen Pillay. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
National Youth Development Agency chairman Yershen Pillay. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

AFTER almost a year of delays, President Jacob Zuma on Friday appointed the new board of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), with Young Communist League chairman Yershen Pillay taking over the reigns as the new board’s chairman.

The new board comes in amid fresh controversy regarding the agency’s decision to release R2.4m to fund last week’s conference of the South African Youth Council. Some of those who had been involved in the conference have said not much was done during the three-day event to come up with a solid youth development agenda.

NYDA — a youth business financier — has a budget of approximately R400m. The agency — the result of a merger between Umsobomvu Youth Fund and the National Youth Commission — has been rocked by allegations of political patronage since its formation on June 16, 2009, and has been operating without a board for nearly a full financial year since the term of the last board expired in April last year.

Former NYDA board chairman Andile Lungisa came from the ranks of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. The relationship between the ruling party and its youth wing, however, hit an all time low last week, when the ANC dissolved the league’s national executive committee.

It appears the dissolution of the "defiant" youth league — which had formally objected to the names of the seven candidates recommended for the board — paved way for Mr Zuma to smoothly conclude the appointment of new board members. In its objection of the candidates, the youth league demanded its candidate Maropene Ntuli become the new board chairwoman and Mr Pillay her deputy.

The youth league tipped Mr Lungisa to return as board chairman but he had failed to make the shortlist from the initial interviews, sparking allegations his exclusion was part of the 'purge' against those in the league who did not support Mr Zuma’s second term bid at the ANC’s national elective conference last December in Mangaung.

While Ms Ntuli was among the newly appointed board members, the disbandment of the youth league’s national executive committee means its influence over the NYDA has been nullified.

Mr Pillay — Mr Lungisa’s former deputy — will be supported by North West ANC spokesman Kenny Morolong.

Others in the new board were: former South African Students Congress president Mothupi Modiba; Inkatha Freedom Party Youth Brigade deputy national chairman Zandile Majozi; the head of marketing at radio station Umhlobo Wenene, Ayanda Bambiso; and the deputy secretary-general of Disabled South Africa Nyalleng Potloane.