Former Deputy Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment Thamsanqa Mahlangu has described the government’s youth economic empowerment programmes as partisan.
Mahlangu, who is MP for Nkulumane and was recalled by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a mini-cabinet reshuffle this year, told Parliament that the manner in which information on the empowerment programmes was disseminated in the ministry was biased along political party lines.
He said officers in the Youth ministry were an impediment to developmental and empowerment programmes.
Mahlangu said youths affiliated to one political party, specifically Zanu PF, were the only ones benefiting from empowerment programmes.
“The flow of information from the ministry should not be through party structures, but rather through public media such as newspapers, radio, television and billboards,” said Mahlangu.
“The so-called youth officers are an impediment to the process, especially to people who are perceived not to be Zanu PF supporters.”
He said youth projects were meant to benefit the entire nation and not a chosen few.
Mahlangu accused officials in the Youth ministry of being preoccupied with being Zanu PF at the expense of empowerment programmes.
“They have become an end to the channel rather than a help through the channel, through their partisan attitude and biased analysis of projects,” Mahlangu lashed out.
“One wonders whether they are project evaluators or whether they are supposed to assist the youth with correct information on how best the youth can go about in benefitting from the programmes.”
He then called for the removal of youth officers hindering programmes.
Mahlangu went on to say it was unfair to demand collateral from youths who were not in a position to provide it.
“It is important to note that the youths we want to empower are already disempowered and do not have anything, hence it is very abnormal to ask them to produce collateral security,” Mahlangu said.
He said many youths had potential, but came from disadvantaged families who could not afford security that banks require.
“True empowerment cannot effectively happen when the process has more impediments than aids,” he said.