Shocking details on youth fund looting

Shocking details have emerged on how individuals aligned to Zanu (PF) looted the Youth Fund, with some individuals receiving as much as $400,000 when $5,000 was the general limit.

Makhosini Hlongwane
Makhosini Hlongwane

Parliament was last week told that a popular Apostolic sect received about $200,000 of taxpayers’ money from the fund, apparently to woo its members’ votes ahead of the 2013 elections.

One beneficiary of the fund, only identified as Dumisani, received a whopping $420,000, while another youth, Eugene Jackson, reportedly received $295,000. Both claimed that they came from the Midlands province, a region which only had 12 beneficiaries, yet their addresses reflected that they resided in Bulawayo.

MPs on the Thematic Committee for Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment complained of unequal distribution of the $20 million fund and queried fictitious addresses given by the some beneficiaries.

The MP for Vungu, Josphat Madubeko, quizzed Patson Mahatchi, Head of Stanbic Bank’s Business Banking division, over the inequitable distribution of loans among the country’s provinces and districts. Stanbic managed part of the youth fund.

Mahatchi told Parliament that the Zanu (PF) MP for Mberengwa East, Makhosini Hlongwane, received $32,000 – despite being way above the age limit of 35.

“Definitely Makhosini was above the limit and no legislator could be classified as disadvantaged and poor enough to benefit from the scheme meant to empower the poor and struggling,” said Moses Chibaya, the MDC-T MP for Mkoba.

Tongai Kasukuwere, the brother of former Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, was among the defaulting beneficiaries.

The “Johanne Masowe Echishanu Bank Loan” was specifically for youths of the sect and funds were distributed through the Zimbabwe Allied Bank under the youth development fund facility in 2012.

The head of Agribusiness with Allied, James Mada, told the committee the bank’s hands were tied as the ministry would screen applicants and just instruct the bank to disburse the loans accordingly. The majority were poultry projects that each received $1,000.

Four of them share same surname with Lawrence Katsiru, a sect leader and the Zanu (PF) provincial youth chair for Manicaland.

“After failing to overcome the urge to prove the existence of the projects, we visited Katsiru’s Little Zimbabwe Farm where some of the projects were reported to be based and discovered that there was nothing on the ground,” Mada told the legislators. He said the beneficiaries of the loan were in serious default of payment and nothing had been recovered.

Church leaders have since been approached for a payment plan but according to Mada, the defaulters have no capacity to offset the debt and have no collateral security.

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