Talent Hwari Herald Reporter
Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao has defended youths accused of unprocedurally receiving loans from the Youth Fund launched by Government to help youths start small businesses.
Addressing journalists after chairing a young entrepreneurs meeting at Stodart Hall in Mbare on Wednesday, Minister Zhuwao said it was ridiculous for people to accuse the youths of squandering “small funds”, while ignoring big companies that failed to payback Government funds.
“I don’t agree with the reports and allegations that the youths have abused funds,” he said.
“We forget what happened to other large companies which were removed from the Zimbabwe Asset Management Corporation (ZAMCO) due to unpaid debts they had.”
ZAMCO was created by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as a special purpose vehicle to house the banking sector, non-performing loans (NPL) and uses a combination of strategies to fund NPLs acquisition, including Government Treasury Bills and loans from foreign funders.
Minister Zhuwao said there were Members of Parliament who also had a $3 million unpaid debt who were now accusing youths of having abused the funds, “a small amount of money compared to theirs”.
“There are Members of Parliament who have $3 million debts, who now point fingers at youths who only have $2 000, which is a bad thing,” he said. “Instead, let us focus on strategies to empower the youths and grow the economy.”
The parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth Development has been on a countrywide tour in the last few days to assess the use of funds obtained from the Youth Fund.
In all the areas the committee visited, it discovered that the funds were abused and in most cases there were no projects being implemented by the beneficiaries. The Youth Fund was launched by Government in 2011 from a $10 million revolving facility supported by Old Mutual, targeting youth aged between 18 and 35.
Minister Zhuwao is accused of having directed the Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) to pay $18 000 to a company involving the former ZYC board member William Mutumanje alias Acie Lumumba, presumably as consultation fees for organising a workshop to discuss youth empowerment strategies.