Youth agency chief ‘can be held liable’

2011-10-15 15:41

The chief executive of the National Youth Development Agency, Steven Ngubeni, can be held liable and forced to repay amounts that were spent irregularly during last year’s ­so-called “kissing festival”.

This is according to Andre Prakke, an expert forensic auditor, who studied the documents that Media24 Investigations obtained relating to the World Festival of Youth and Students in December. An investigation into the matter reveals that the agency blew R106 million.

Last week Media24 Investigations revealed how the agency made exorbitant payments to politically-connected business people and artists.

Some of the shocking expenses included R100 000 for ­balloons, R90 000 for a headstone and R60 000 for confetti. These figures were contained in documents Media24 Investigations obtained after a 10-month legal battle applying the access to information legislation.

This week Prakke discovered that the agency had not ­followed guidelines specified by the Public Finance ­Management Act.

The festival was funded through a R40-million grant from the National Lotteries Board and R29 million from the Presidency, among others.

Said Prakke: “This is part or is a government agency and has to comply with the provisions of the act... It is also clear that ­virtually all the funding came from government and the ­Lotto, which is deemed to be part of government funds.”

He added that he found there were some suppliers who were contracted and paid without proper procedure and also without the required tender procedure followed in particular for supplies above R50 000.

“Very few of the suppliers had submitted any tax clearance certificates which is obligatory. There was one supplier who submitted a tax clearance certificate who was not a supplier and some invoices were not accompanied by purchase orders.

“One supplier was also not a registered business entity as provided on the particulars of the invoice...,” Prakke said.

He also discovered from the documents that private expenses were paid for by the agency, which was against the act.

Ngubeni, a former deputy secretary-general of the ANC Youth League, conceded in an interview last week that proper procedures had not been followed in all cases, but defended the agency’s conduct in spending the R106 million.

The “kissing festival” is also the subject of an investigation by Public Protector Thuli ­Madonsela.

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