MEMBERS of the public have called for the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate abuse of the Youth Development Fund.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Contributing to a live radio public hearing by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth and Indigenisation on the $40 million loan facility, callers said there was high-level corruption in the manner the funds were managed.
“The process of disbursing the funds was not transparent and there was high-level of corruption. A commission of inquiry must be set up to investigate abuse of the funds,” a caller said during the live public hearing.
“Whenever government comes up with funding programmes, the money is abused and yet we do not see anyone arrested for that.”
Another contributor alleged that when the youths wrote their project proposals they were told to get them signed by the Youth minister, adding bank officials managing the programme were also corrupt and demanded bribes.
“If a project was authorised, some bank officials demanded 10% of the loan, and there was actually a syndicate of those corrupt bank officers.”
A caller said former Youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere (now Local Government minister) was being wrongfully accused of mismanaging the Youth Development Fund yet the money was disbursed to the youths through banks, not through the minister.
Other callers said the process of getting the loans was laborious, and that the money was distributed along political grounds with opposition supporters interested in the funds told they would get nothing.
Turncoat Zanu PF activist Jim Kunaka also contributed to the radio public hearing saying that youth officers and the youths applying for the loans must be trained in project management and monitoring before any money is disbursed.
“Untrained youths accessed the money. People must not be given loans without capacitating them to manage the funds, and that is why there was a very high default rate with those funds,” Kunaka said.
An 85% default rate was recorded in the Youth Development Fund, after some youths gave fake addresses and names resulting in government losing millions of dollars.
People from Matabeleland complained that there was a low number from the region that benefited from the loans.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth and Indigenisation Justice Mayor Wadyajena said there was a low uptake of loans in Matabeleland because most people there were into cross-border trading.