ORAL evidence given before Parliament by Stanbic Bank and Allied Bank yesterday revealed youth loan funds were looted with some beneficiaries misrepresenting their ages and addresses, an indication that they intended to avoid paying back.
Some of them, including a Zanu PF MP, got more than cut-off amounts of $10 000 per beneficiary.
The Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee heard that Zanu PF Mberengwa East MP Makhosini Hlongwane benefited from a Stanbic Bank youth loan although he did not qualify.
The committee is chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu PF).
Stanbic Bank head of business banking Patson Mahachi told the committee that the bank had signed an agreement with the ministry to release maximum amounts of between $5 000 and $10 000 per beneficiary from a $20 million revolving fund.
The beneficiaries of the loans were supposed to be between 21 to 35 years, he said.
However, MDC-T Mkoba MP Moses Chibaya queried why Hlongwane on June 27 in 2012 — when he was 38 years old — got a loan of $32 380 for a
“How is it possible that an MP can get a youth loan when legislators do not fall under the category of disadvantaged youths?” Chibaya charged.
Mahachi said the loans were strictly for people aged from 21 to 35 years, but added that at times the bank would consider funding potentially-viable projects with the ability to create employment for other youths.
The MPs said the bank flouted their own regulations as envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that they signed with the Indigenisation ministry stipulating that beneficiaries must be disadvantaged youths aged between 18 and 35 years.
Other irregularities the committee noted were that Stanbic was given false addresses and there was double-dipping, while some beneficiaries got loans of up to $500 000.
But Hlongwane yesterday denied looting the fund.
“I got a loan from Stanbic of $32 000, but I never applied for a youth loan. I had submitted a loan application to the bank,” Hlongwane said.
“If the bank gave me a loan from the youth fund, then that is their problem. I am prepared to submit my application to Parliament.”
Welshman Ncube’s MDC MP Jasmine Toffa raised an issue over a loan of $420 000 given to a Bulawayo youth identified only as Dumisani.
She also queried an address, 1060 Lobengula Street in Bulawayo, which she said was non-existent.
Zanu PF Vungu MP Josphat Madubeko queried why the bulk of the loans were disbursed to Harare and Mashonaland Provinces, while Zanu PF Mberengwa North MP Tafanana Zhou sought an explanation over a loan of $150 000 given to a person named Mussa.
Zhou wanted to know whether the person was Mohammed Mussa, a wealthy businessman, or another Mussa.
Mahachi said he was going to verify the facts, adding that Harare and Mashonaland Provinces had submitted many applications.
He said of the $20 million fund, a total of $5,7 million was disbursed and projects worth $8,7 million declined.
Mahachi said $13 million was still available for loans.
Allied Bank’s head of agribusiness James Mada told the committee that in 2010, the Ministry of Youth ordered Allied Bank to disburse $27 667 to 30 youths from the Johanne Masowe Wechishanu Apostolic sect for poultry projects.
He, however, said the projects were a complete disaster as all the youths failed to pay back the loans.
“We even appealed to their leader Lawrence Katsiru (Mashonaland East Zanu PF political commissar) to force them to re-pay, but this has yielded no results. We have managed to collect $150 only from three people. We have tried to even use strong words and threatened them with arrests,” Mada said.
Katsiru’s two sons, Ignatius and Talent were said to have benefited from the projects.
Mada said Allied Bank also distributed individual loans worth $18 700 at 10% interest rates in 2010 and out of 21 beneficiaries, only eight paid back.
He said 13 defaulted and had been since blacklisted at all banks in Zimbabwe.