Source: Parly fumes over unpaid women’s loans – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 6, 2017
PARLIAMENT has expressed dismay over the failure by the Women Affairs ministry to monitor loans advanced to various women’s groups under the Women’s Development Fund (WDF), where documents showed low loan repayment rates.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women and Gender Biata Nyamupinga told the National Assembly on Thursday that the Women Affairs ministry had disbursed more than $2 million to women groups in 10 provinces without checking on the viability of the projects pursued.
However, the committee has since recommended that the ministry should, with immediate effect, stop disbursing funds under WDF and immediately carry out an audit to ascertain viability of the projects undertaken.
“The committee was dismayed that the WDF repayment status in most provinces is critically low, except in Masvingo and Midlands, and documents submitted to the committee as well as submissions made during fact-finding visits reveal repayment rates of 85% in Masvingo, 60% in Midlands, 45% in Mashonaland East, 29% in Matabeleland North, and 24% in Matabeleland South,” Nyamupinga said.
“The Ministry of Women Affairs and Gender should with immediate effect stop disbursing funds under WDF and immediately carry out an audit and evaluation of all projects funded under WDF since 2010 to ascertain their viability status because WDF is a revolving fund and it is critical that the ministry ensures that all the projects owing it should make payments urgently to enable groups waiting for financial assistance to benefit from the same fund,” she said.
Nyamupinga said the committee was further concerned that the ministry was not doing enough to recover loans from the women’s groups.
“In Chimanimani, the committee was informed by one group that it was no longer able to repay its loan because it was also owed $8 000 by Wattle Company, which had also folded up. It is the concern of the committee that the ministry is not fully engaging Wattle Company to assist the project to recover this huge amount it is owed by the company.”
The government was also said to be struggling to support the women’s fund, with $300 000 allocated to the fund in 2013, but was not released, and $600 000 earmarked for the revolving fund for 2017, but has not been disbursed.
Some of the reasons why women were said to have failed to repay the loans were the high interest rates of 10% charged per annum.