NYANGA — Over 400 “ghost” youth officers have been identified in Manicaland as the cash-strapped government continues to pay people who are doing nothing, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth and Indigenisation has heard.
by VENERANDA LANGA
A youth development officer in the province, Primrose Ndoro, on Monday told legislators visiting youth projects that benefited from the $40 million Youth Development Fund that an excess of 429 youth officers were employed in the province.
MPs suspected that it could be a case of ghost workers, but Ndoro said the officers in question were awaiting redeployment to other ministries.
“The total number of youth development officers in Manicaland is 656, and we have a strength of 227, and an excess of 429,” Ndoro said.
“Each ward is supposed to have three youth officers and that is why the number was said to be excessive, but some of them were redeployed to the Ministry of Sport while others await redeployment.”
MPs from the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led committee visited youth projects all over the country and discovered that projects failed because of lack of supervision despite the Ministry of Youth having an excessive number of youth officers.
Ministry officials admitted to MPs that all provinces had an excessive number of youth development officers.
Banks which handled the youth fund were CABS, CBZ, Stanbic and Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe.
CABS disbursed around $801 000 to districts like Makoni, Nyanga, Chimanimani, Buhera, Mutare and Mutasa and youths that benefited had repaid only 237 507 leaving the bulk of the amount unpaid.
The whole province has a 29,7% repayment rate, while 71% has not been recovered. Most of the youths cannot be traced after giving false names and addresses, while those still running projects were performing badly due to lack of business skills.
Ndoro said the CABS Kurera/Ukondla scheme had a high default rate because the loan applicants did not go through the ministry, but through the bank.
“Follow-up by Ministry of Youth officers was difficult because when our officers visited the projects the proprietors told them they would deal with the banks and not the ministry and so it was difficult to supervise them. At the CBZ projects, the ministry was more involved, that is why there is a high repayment rate,” she said.
Most of the projects visited by MPs were either non-existent or non-performing. However, there were a few projects like shoe-making and manufacture of household chemicals which were profitable.
In Chivhu, local MP Mike Bimha supported youths in his constituency by volunteering to be a guarantor for them to get loans. However, the youths that he guaranteed for in order for them to access $1 000 had not repaid the loans.