Leonard Ncube Senior Reporter
MATABELELAND youth groups have implored government to audit the National Youth Fund introduced two years ago, in the wake of reports that only $5,7 million out of $20 million has been disbursed. National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) director Liberman Bhebhe said they were not happy about lack of accountability in the fund which was meant to be disbursed through local banks.
NYDT, Youth Network for Alternative Development, Instcha.com, Bulawayo Agenda, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, Ibhetshu Likazulu, Rural Communities Empowerment Trust and Christian Youth Forum of Zimbabwe met in Bulawayo yesterday and came up with some recommendations.
“Our meeting was inspired by recent reports from Parliament when a Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee revealed that only $5, 7 million of the youth fund administered by Stanbic Bank was disbursed to a few provinces while some did not get anything,” said Bhebhe.
He said there was need for authorities to investigate the disbursement criteria which saw the bulk of the funds going to youths in Harare while a portion was disbursed in Bulawayo.
There were no immediate exact figures on the Harare and Bulawayo beneficiaries.
There were only three beneficiaries from Masvingo while in Matabeleland South none benefited, according to the portfolio committee findings.
It was also alleged that some legislators and businesspeople also benefited despite them not being youths.
Bhebhe said they had written to the relevant authorities seeking answers.
He said they made some recommendations that government carries out an audit to establish who the beneficiaries are and from which province.
“Our recommendations are that there should be commitment by the government towards capacity building for youths so that they can be able to come up with convincing business proposals. We also urge the authorities to consider rural youths because it seems only those from urban areas were considered while there should also be a decentralisation of the process to be accessible to anyone from any part of the country,” Bhebhe said.
The NYDT director said they were also engaging MPs in different constituencies over the issue, as corrupt tendencies in the fund could defeat the whole purpose of empowering Zimbabweans.
Government came up with youth empowerment programmes, working jointly with financial institutions such as Cabs, CBZ Bank and Stanbic Bank which were extending loans to youths between the ages of 18 and 35 with viable business plans.
The maximum amount each beneficiary could access was $5,000 for small projects while for bigger projects it was $10,000 at an interest of 10 percent per annum.