Loan scheme unfair and suspect, say youths

Manicaland based youth groups have said they will confront Francis Nhema, the minister of youth, indigenisation and empowerment, over the way the controversial youth fund has been allocated.

Francis Nhema, the minister of youth, indigenisation and empowerment.
Francis Nhema, the minister of youth, indigenisation and empowerment.

In interviews with The Zimbabwean this week, the groups said they were unhappy with reports of massive looting of funds.

According to the government, the fund is aimed at helping reduce youth unemployment in the country as well as stimulating economic growth, but young people have claimed the programme only benefits Zanu (PF) members.

“We are targeting the minister in charge to seek clarification. The last resort would be confrontations, but we are open to discussions and dialogue,” said Thomas Mukoyi from Manicaland Youth Development Trust.

The Youth Alliance group expressed concern at the lack of accountability in the administration of funds and said Manicaland province had been sidelined.

“Youths from this province have been accused of submitting unbankable business proposals resulting in us failing to access the funds,” said Francis Berejena, the secretary-general of the group.

“It is mind boggling that we submitted wrong information and we know that it was a way to sideline us. With our high level of education, it is a mockery that they say we did not fill in the papers correctly,” he said. “The credibility of the structures managing the fund at a community level remains questionable.”

Abigail Mvududu from Mutare Youth Forum questioned why Harare and Mashonaland provinces received the biggest percentage of the fund whereas Manicaland received virtually nothing.

Last month, the youth, indigenisation and economic empowerment parliamentary portfolio committee heard that the youth loan funds had been looted, with some beneficiaries misrepresenting their ages and addresses, an indication that they intended to avoid paying back.

Some of the beneficiaries got more than the maximum of $10,000. Banks have so far received applications worth $14m and projects worth $5.7m have 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.

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