DA KZN: Millions spent on Premier’s Youth Ambassadors programme

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP

Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature

A parliamentary reply to the DA has revealed that the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier spent almost R20 million on training its Youth Ambassadors during the 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial years despite very little tuition taking place.

According to the November 2013 reply from KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu training only took place for three weeks during 2010/11 and for less than four months in 2011/12.  The same response reveals that during the same time frame, R8.5million was spent on training some 7 000 ambassadors while R4million was spent transporting trainees to different venues and R5 million was spent on catering.  In addition to this, each trainee received a monthly stipend of R1 500 adding up to R1.2 million annually.

The programme, the creation of former Premier, Zweli Mkhize, aims to uplift the youth in the province through a wide range of activities.  These include training in the areas of food security, environmental issues, health development and finance management.

The DA strongly supports any initiative which ultimately improves the lives of the youth of our province.  We also support the need for such upliftment projects.

But we have serious concerns over the Youth Ambassadors’ Programme in its current form.

The vast sums of money being spent on training which is barely existent are our first concern.  Furthermore, the reply reveals that candidates do not receive any formal qualification at the end, nor is there any form of contractual obligation that they will ultimately be employed as a result of completing the programme.  Instead they are told that the course will “provide them with certain skills that will be useful in life”, along with a vague promise that they will be “in a better position” to find work within the provincial government.

This programme has the potential to spark real employment for candidates.  Yet they are left with no real carry over benefits.

This is a glaring oversight.

Our province is facing many challenges, particularly in the education, healthcare and housing sectors.  There can be no excuse for any programme which does not offer a concrete outcome.

The DA expects the Premier to urgently review the programme in its entirety.  If it is to be continued and funded by the KZN Office of the Premier using public funds then the end result needs to offer something a lot more tangible.