Namibia: NYC Job-Creation Millions Diverted

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THE National Youth Council spent funds meant for entrepreneurship projects on its general assembly and restructuring exercise, while local youths continue to cry out for job opportunities to sustain themselves.

The NYC received N$15 million specifically for youth entrepreneurship projects in addition to the council's annual budget allocation for the 2019/20 financial year.

During the 2019/20 budget statement, former finance minister Calle Schlettwein reiterated that this additional allocation was solely for youth entrepreneurship projects to resuscitate growth and jobs in the economy.

During the same financial year, NYC also received an additional N$9,5 million to support youth employment and self-employment.

These were to complement youth-related projects under the youth and sports ministry as well as support facilities at the Development Bank of Namibia and other government agencies.

As yet, no permanent job has been created with the additional allocation.

Instead of spending money on the intended projects, the council splashed millions on its internal restructuring process, including huge amounts paid out for travel and subsistence allowances. The total amount spent on the council's internal processes includes N$1,5 million on the restructuring of constituencies and regional youth forums and N$1,3 million on its general assembly held late last year.

More than N$350 000 spent for the Rietfontein event was paid out as travel and subsistence allowances for NYC officials, delegates, and the interim board.

The council also paid close to N$100 000 on overtime, N$213 100 on accommodation, N$220 075 on drinks and food supply and N$8 000 on youth volunteer allowances.

Since Schlettwein's time, Namibia's economic conditions worsened with a budget deficit of 12,5% of gross domestic product, over 12 000 people losing jobs and businesses closing with the dragging Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Namibia Labour Force Survey 2018, the country's youth unemployment rate is 46,1%, which is an increase of 2,7% compared to the 43,4% reported in 2016.

The additional allocation only reached the council's account towards the end of August 2019. The budget of the general assembly and the restructuring should have come from the council's annual budget allocation.

This redirection of the funds was approved by the council's management and former board before it was shared with the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service to which it reports, Sharonice Busch, who was elected as NYC executive chairperson in December last year at the council general assembly, told The Namibian.

The council originally planned to spend only N$1,2 million but overspent by N$166 007 on the four-day general assembly held at Rietfontein.

Meanwhile, the NYC restructured its constituencies and regional youth forums with money meant to create entrepreneurship projects for the youth.

For the constituency forum restructuring, the council spent N$700 000 and the restructuring of regional youth forums cost N$560 000. Both amounts included travelling and accommodation costs.

The regional coordinators regional executive committee got daily allowances amounting to N$58 425 and youth officers' travel allowances totalled N$97,185.

The travelling allowances for the interim board cost N$31 847 and N$53 496 for the officials.

For catering, the council spent N$16 829. This was confirmed in financial reports seen by The Namibian.

JOBS CREATED

NYC did use some of the money to create temporary jobs, with the hope that this would result in permanent jobs.

Busch recently told The Namibian that as of 31 December 2020, NYC created 610 jobs of less than 12 months, of which 126 were created through the horticulture project and 484 under a project labelled 'Namibian youth response to Covid-19' where young people were hired to educate fellow youths and the general population on how to stop the spread of the virus.

Another 84 young people were also hired for 12 months for the horticulture project.

The council hopes the 84 young business owners who were trained through its youth development grant programme will permanently employ at least one person.

These temporary jobs cost the council N$4,9 million.

THE ACTUAL YOUTH PROJECTS FUNDED

To date, the council primarily spent the money on the vegetable production project (horticulture), their response to Covid-19 during youth week, support for youth organisations as well as regional forum restructuring.

Horticulture seems to be the council's biggest project, taking up N$3,2 million of the N$15 million funding.

The money was spent on contractors' fees, greenhouses, the launch, travelling allowances and the solar system, among other expenses.

Fourteen sites were identified for the project countrywide.

Six young people per region will own businesses and each get equipment support worth N$25 000.

Other projects the council funded were support for youth organisations (N$54 000), monitoring and evaluation (N$26 000), credit for youth in business (N$56 000), youth expo (N$520 000) and European Union Erasmus projects (N$120 000).

Currently, most of the registered job seekers have senior secondary education (393) followed by those with junior secondary education (446), certificates/diplomas (216), primary education (146), university degrees (63), post-graduate (28), and no formal education (26).

Youth executive director Audrin Mathe referred The Namibian to the council's board chaired by Busch.

STUDENTS' REACTIONS

The Students Union of Namibia secretary for political education Maximilliant Katjimune expressed disappointment in the NYC, saying it is disheartening considering the massive youth unemployment in the country, standing at over 44%.

"However, this does not surprise us. We know that NYC has been suffering from a gross incapacity of leadership and good corporate governance. This gross incapacity is not only on the administrative level, but also on the political leadership level in terms of the board," Katjimune added.

Katjimune believes the employees at that organisation must be held accountable for this gross abuse of taxpayers' money.

"And it must start with us getting clarity on this N$15 million that was misused," he added.

Meanwhile, the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) spokesperson Dylan Mukuroli concurred with SUN and urged the NYC leadership to ensure the remainder of the funds serves the intended purpose of job creation.

"If their programmes managed to create 84 permanent jobs, they must immediately duplicate that and roll out more. There is no time to continue experimenting," he said.

Mukuroli further said NYC must also see how they can continue providing support to the temporary workers.

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