Hey, big spender!

2012-06-23 16:26

Behind the scenes, Matiti was infuriating NYDA members with his demands

Meet Mr Big Spender – the ANC Youth League’s provincial leader Ayanda Matiti.

Matiti flitted about in hired luxury cars, drank in exclusive clubs and booked his colleagues into high-end hotels in the days leading up to last week’s failed Youth Day celebrations in Port Elizabeth.

Now, unhappy National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) employees are accusing Matiti of using the government event to effectively throw a massive party for his friends and cronies.

Matiti is also chairperson of the NYDA in Eastern Cape.

The provincial government paid R2.2 million towards the event, which organisers expected at least 20 000 young people to attend.

But keynote speaker Minister Collins Chabane delivered his speech to only 3 000 people at KwaZakhele’s Wolfson Stadium – most of them hostile ANC Youth League members.

President Jacob Zuma was initially supposed to address the event, but he pulled out at the last minute and sent Chabane in his place, who was heckled by league members.

Behind the scenes, Matiti was infuriating NYDA members with his extravagant demands.

A frustrated employee said: “By the time the actual Youth Day came, everybody was tired of all these insane requests and we just wanted it to end.

“We didn’t know who these people were and why they were being given (hotel) rooms, but no one would dare question Matiti. He’s always done what he wants.”

This was corroborated by three other employees, who accused Matiti of running the agency with an iron fist.

These are some of the irregularities uncovered by City Press:
» Agriculture MEC Zoleka Capa donated two cows and ten sheep for slaughter to feed people at the event.

Instead, Matiti kept the meat for a braai at which he hosted youth league members, friends and influential local businessmen;

» Matiti instructed that a R600 000 tender to construct the stage for the day be taken from one businessman and given to someone else connected to him;

» Promotional material publicising the event, posters and T-shirts arrived as late as the night before and are now taking up space in the front area of the agency’s Port Elizabeth offices; and

» Matiti had a running tab for his friends for three nights at Diamonds, a nightclub on Parliament Street in Port Elizabeth.

When approached for comment, Matiti denied any knowledge of double-bookings, saying all bookings instructed by him were for legitimate workers.

The braai, he said, was for everyone who worked on preparations for the event, including Social Development MEC Pemmy Majodina, Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan mayor Zanoxolo Wayile and NYDA chief executive Steven Ngobeni.

“It was decided to deviate and have the braai for everyone who worked, including officials, their friends, board members and all the youth of the region. It was not an Ayanda Matiti braai,” he said.

“As provincial chairperson why would I be busy with detail of braais and bookings?”

According to invoices seen by City Press, East London resident Matiti ran up a car hire bill of R29 000 from June 5 to June 30.

Two rooms under his name at the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel and Resort added to just under R22 000.

Three days before the event, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet came to the youth’s rescue, doubling an earlier contribution of R1.1 million to make things happen.

When asked how the money was used this week, Kiviet’s spokesperson Manelisi Wolela said their contribution – through the department of sport, arts, culture and recreation – was part of more contributions from elsewhere.

He said all tenders procured with the R2.2 million, including the stage, passed through Kiviet’s office. Car hire and accommodation was paid for by the NYDA.

“Everything (procured through provincial government funds) went through us and there were no frills. We only paid for what was necessary because we have to account for that money,” Wolela said.

Ironically, relations between Kiviet and Matiti became strained after she refused to give the NYDA a R20-million budget and other support.

At the time she said there were no clear lines of accountability.

The NYDA, the youth league and the department of social development were recently embroiled in a funding scandal when it emerged the latter’s money was used to fund youth league regional conferences under the guise of them being strategic workshops.

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