NYDA defends Youth Festival
Johannesburg - The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on Thursday defended the 17th World Youth Festival from criticism and welcomed calls for an audit into the R69m event.
"We would welcome any audit into the organisation and management of the youth festival," NYDA chairperson Andile Lungisa said in a statement.
"The NYDA is a public entity and gets audited like any other public organisation," he said.
Lungisa said he was "disappointed" with the media's coverage, with reports of disorganisation and speakers not showing up. He lamented the fact that there was no reporting on "some" venues being full and on the "robust discussions" taking place.
The festival, currently underway at the Tshwane Events Centre, began on Monday and would end on December 21. According to the agency 15 000 youth from over 130 countries were attending the festival.
There had been widespread criticism of the festival's budget, which was initially R400m, but later cut to R69m. Of this, R29m came from government and R40m from the National Lotteries Board.
The festival's management was criticised when several speakers, including several government ministers, did not arrive, buses carrying delegates arrived late and there was a shortage of food.
According to some media reports delegates played "kissing games" while waiting for seminars to begin.
"We are disappointed with the media who find it easy to ignore the issues that are being discussed in the seminars... I find that there is more coverage about things that happen outside the seminar venues, even though sufficient progress is being made and resolutions are being taken on critical issues at the various seminars and conferences."
The agency was "doing our best" to cater for all delegates, and no session had been cancelled due to a lack of speakers.
"Some of the speakers mentioned in the programme will still come through... I want to emphasise that no sessions have been cancelled because there are no speakers... .The festival is going ahead as planned and focus should be on the content."