Civil Society Concerned about Youth Fund Irregularities
For Immediate Release: Wednesday 4 June 2014
We, civil society organizations in Matabeleland hereby acknowledge the steps that have been taken in the disbursement of youth fund loans in an effort to economically empower young people in Zimbabwe. We are, however, grossly aggrieved by recent media revelations suggesting massive looting and irregularities in the disbursement of the fund.
It has been reported that some individuals who are over the 35 years, accessed the youth fund disregarding the definition of a youth as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the National Youth Policy. Of note, well known corrupt legislators, have clandestinely benefited from the fund at the expense of youths. This is evidently a breach of the fund primary objective.
According to media reports, oral evidence given before the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, reveals that a legislator received $32, 380 in June 2012 for a bakery project at the age of 38. The committee also heard that an unknown individual, with a questionable physical address, received $420, 000. This occurred despite the maximum amount an individual can access being pegged at $10, 000. The committee also heard that another individual accessed a loan of $150, 000 and again, there is inadequate information about the identity or residential address of the person. These hefty loan allocations supersede the normal loan application that was made available to youths.
The committee also learned that one of the banks used a ZANU PF youth leader to follow up on the repayment of loans, which, in our view, confirms fears that the fund is disbursed in a partisan manner.
We would therefore like to express concerns about;
The lack of accountability in the fund. It is mind boggling that it took two years to pick up some glaring discrepancies. As it is, the identity of the some of the recipients who got more than the maximum amount remains unknown.
The credibility of the structures managing the fund at a community level remains questionable.
The seemingly evident, deliberate, strategy to marginalise youths from the Matabeleland regions. Harare and Mashonaland Provinces received the biggest percentage of the fund whereas Matabeleland South virtually received nothing.
Lack of capacity building efforts prior to the disbursement of the funds, resulting in the failure of most of the projects applied for.
Lack of monitoring mechanisms of these projects which has resulted in failure to repay the loans.
All this flies in the face of the provisions of section 20(1c) and (3) of the new Zimbabwe constitution which clearly outline the need for youths to be afforded employment opportunities and other avenues for economic empowerment and that such opportunities should be inclusive, non-partisan and national in character. Article 2 of the African youth charter also speaks into the importance of non discrimination in the enjoyment of rights by all young people. Additionally article 11 (2d) also emphasizes the importance of empowering marginalized and disadvantaged youths, an element that clearly lacks in the current youth fund as it has been proven to benefit legislators as opposed to poor youths. Furthermore, article 15 (4f) seeks to promote youth entrepreneurship by providing training for youths in schools and promotion of business development skills.
Therefore the manner in which the youth fund has been administered seems to be in direct violation of the guiding principles of the National youth policy which emphasise equity and diversity in article 2.5 (2). Subsection 12 of the same article also clearly states that all institutions and organizations involved in youth development should operate in a transparent manner whilst ensuring that they are accessible to youths. It is thus our conclusion that an audit of the youth fund is crucial for unveiling all discrepancies concerning the fund as a way of improving its accessibility to disadvantaged young Zimbabweans in future.
This statement has been endorsed by the following organizations:
National Youth Development Trust
Youth Network for Alternative Development
Lupane Youth for Development
Women’s Institute for Leadership Development
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association
Rural Communities Empowerment Trust
Christian Youth Forum of Zimbabwe
Lupane Youth for Development