Welcome aboard the gravy train

If you are a civil servant and want to get rich, join the ­National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

A City Press investigation has revealed that the agency’s staff will earn an average ­salary of R517 000 each this ­financial year, prompting one of its directors to admit that it was nothing more than an ANC Youth League-dominated “gravy train”.

The investigation has shown that NYDA staff earn on average significantly more than most of the employees of 14 other similar public entities we surveyed.

The agency also leaves other government departments in the shade in terms of average costs per job.

The NYDA, shrouded in controversy after it spent R100 million on a youth festival in December last year and over the close links of its staff with the youth league, will receive R1.2 billion over the next three years from the Treasury.

Treasury national budget documents show that each of the agency’s 339 staff ­members earned R430 000 on ­average last year.

The Treasury allocated R187.5 million for salaries for 363 staff members for the ­current financial year: an average salary of R517 000 per ­employee.

NYDA chief executive ­Steven Ngubeni, whose yearly income of R1.8 million is the same as that of a Cabinet minister, charged that City Press’ information which was published by the Treasury and signed off by the Presidency, was “fraught with errors and misconception”.

Ngubeni said that in the previous financial year, the agency had 433 people – 94 more posts than were approved in the Treasury documents – and had paid them an average of R322 269 yearly.

But NYDA director Francois Slabber conceded to City Press that managers in the agency earn “far too much”.

Asked whether the agency was a gravy train, he said: “It had all the potential not to be one, but it is one now.”

Slabber, an independent board member, gets a yearly stipend of R378 000 for spending about five days a month on agency business, ­although he says it is “sometimes more”.

Slabber said since 2009 the agency had lost several of its “brightest stars” who are currently being replaced with “ANC
Youth League members wh0 are not such bright stars”.

The chief operations officer of the agency, Magdalene Moonsamy (33), earns R1.2?million. She is also a youth league spokesperson.

The agency’s chairperson, Andile Lungisa, earns R790?000 a year. He is also an executive member of the youth league and its former deputy president.

Until recently Ngubeni was the deputy secretary-general of the league.

City Press attempted to ­determine the discrepancies between the Treasury figures provided by the Presidency and Ngubeni’s figures.

The Presidency referred enquiries to the agency. Ngubeni said the Treasury did not determine their budget for them.

A Treasury spokesperson said that the accounting officers of public entities did have discretion on the use of appropriated funds, but the agency would have to account for why there was a change in what they had signed off on.

This was in terms of what had been planned for personnel and what the audited outcome was.

NYDA employees earn on average more than most civil servants in national departments, but Ngubeni said a ­fairer comparison would be with similar public entities.

We obtained the figures for 14 entities from published Treasury documents.

For the current financial year, only Competition Commission employees have a higher average salary than the agency’s staff – R574 000 yearly compared to the ­agency’s R517 000.

The NYDA’s average salary was larger than that of agencies like the National Credit Regulator, Nedlac, the CSIR, Productivity SA and the ­National Gambling Board, among others .
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