Premier defends R1m given to ‘worthwhile cause’

2011-04-02 16:21

Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale contributed R1 million towards the National Youth ­Development Agency’s ill-fated R100-million youth festival.

He donated the money from the Premier’s Discretionary Fund towards the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students, according to his office’s responses to parliamentary questions from the DA in the Limpopo legislature.

Mathale, who is also the ANC’s provincial chair, is a staunch ally of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, whose league is ­effectively in charge of the agency.

The event, hosted last ­December in Pretoria, brought together 15 000 delegates from 126 countries under the banner “Let’s defeat imperialism for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation”.

It later sparked a debate about the costs involved and whether they were justified. This came after the event was marred by ­logistical and organisational chaos, as well as the no-show of prominent speakers.

Agency chairperson Andile Lungisa said in February the cost of hosting the event had ballooned from R69 million to R100 million.

Mathale said he donated the money on September 20 last year ­because the festival was a “worthwhile cause”.

DA Limpopo leader Desiree van der Walt described the decision as “appalling” and said it flew in the face of high unemployment and the many social hardships faced by ­Limpopo youths.

Mathale’s spokesperson Phuti Mosomane said Limpopo youths also attended the festival. “The agency is also a government structure that depends on government funding, hence the funding,” said Mosomane.

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