Matabeleland groups fume over youth funds

Francis Nhema

MATABELELAND-based youth organisations yesterday said they would be forced to confront administrators of the controversial youth fund amid continued revelations of looting by undeserving recipients.

Chief Reporter

The organisations said they were not happy with reports of massive looting of funds with authorities taking “two years to pick up some glaring discrepancies”.

The scheme is aimed at helping reduce youth unemployment in the country as well as stimulating economic growth, but opposition parties claim the programme only benefits Zanu PF members.

“We are having consultations with various stakeholders on the youth fund after reports from the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee suggesting looting,” National Youth Development Trust director Liberty Bhebhe told journalists in Bulawayo.

“We are targeting the minister in charge (Francis Nhema) whom we understand would be in the city by weekend and also the Zimbabwe Youth Council to seek clarification.

“The last resort would be confrontations but we are open to discussions and dialogue.”

The organisations expressed concern on the alleged lack of accountability in the administration of funds and perceived marginalisation of the region.

Youths in Matabeleland have been accused of submitting unbankable business proposals resulting in them failing to access the funds.

“It is mind boggling that it took two years to pick up some glaring discrepancies. As it is, the identity of some of the recipients who got more than the maximum amount remains unknown,” Bhebhe said.

“The credibility of the structures managing the fund at a community level remains questionable.

“The seemingly evident, deliberate strategy is to marginalise youths from the Matabeleland region.

“Harare and Mashonaland provinces received the biggest percentage of the fund whereas Matabeleland South virtually received nothing.”

Last month, the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee heard that the youth loan funds were looted with some beneficiaries misrepresenting their ages and addresses, an indication that they intended to avoid paying back.

Some of the beneficiaires got more than cut-off amounts of $10 000 per beneficiary.

Banks have so far received applications worth $14 million and only projects worth $5,7 million has been approved.

Of the 289 projects approved, 226 were from Harare and Mashonaland provinces while Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces had 49 projects, the Midlands 12, Manicaland two and Masvingo three.