Youth binge: what a Lotto bull

2010-12-18 09:43

We asked a number of young people this week what they thought were the most pressing issues facing the youth of this and other countries on the eve of 2011.

Some of the answers we received were the crisis of identity, unemployment, sexual behaviour and family structures.

Surprisingly, none of them responded “the imperialist obstacles to the youth struggle and association”; “fighting against the imperialist media” or “denying sexual and reproductive rights to the youth”.

According to a programme of the World Youth Festival taking place in Tshwane, those were some of the burning topics (allegedly) being discussed this week by the 15 000 people attending.

These issues were allegedly discussed when delegates were not boozing or playing kissing games – at a price tag of R69 million to South Africa.

It is beyond belief that the Presidency, under which the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) falls, allowed this binge fest to continue against growing concerns that the event was badly organised and poorly funded.

This is the same government told in no uncertain terms by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to introduce austerity measures and cut down on free lunches, overseas trips and printing countless free T-shirts.

The only inference to draw is that the NYDA – effectively the ANC Youth League in drag after the body was thoroughly stocked with Julius Malema’s troops recently – flexed its political muscle to strong-arm President Jacob Zuma and his government into sponsoring their party.

There could be no rational explanation for why South Africans should cough up for an eight-day-long talkshop about the evils of imperialism, capitalism and a number of other -isms (except, of course, communism).

Even more alarming is the fact that the National Lotteries Board (NLB), whose sole mandate is to generate funds for “good causes”, agreed to donate R40 million to the jamboree.

We don’t buy NLB chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda’s explanation that the grant was judged on merit and awarded under the provision of “miscellaneous” spending.

The writers of the Lotteries Act surely did not have a binge fest in mind when they decided Lotto money should be spent on reconstruction and development programmes, charities, arts and sport projects and “miscellaneous purposes”.

Examples are ample of schools for poor or disabled children and other non-profit organisations whose applications for Lotto funding have been turned down.

Government will struggle to defend having a lottery in future if this is where the money goes.

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