via Confusion, corruption wreck youth fund – The Zimbabwean 23.9.2015
In 2011 the Zimbabwe Government was given US$11 million by the Old Mutual to support income-generating projects for the youth. $1 million was meant for capacity building whilst the balance was a revolving fund for income-generating projects initiated by the youth.
Parliament was informed on July 3, 2014 that the fund had been suspended due to the high repayment default rate and a host of other allegations that included corruption and mismanagement. The whole country was taken aback and this avalanche of concerns prompted an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa.
The study examined how the funds were disbursed, used and accounted for. Many respondents were interviewed and the research team utilised both secondary and primary sources of data. They have found that the Fund failed to make any impact on the lives of the impoverished youths.
A summary of the findings is as follows:
(a) There was inadequate information on the existence of the Fund. The information was limited to a few individuals known or related to senior government officials and institutions that were directly responsible for the administration of the fund;
(b) A significant majority of the applicants failed to access the funds because of lack of information on the existence of the fund, political reasons, lack of business knowledge, lack of innovation, poor drafting skills,
(c) Confusion reigned among the key authorities (CABS, Zimbabwe Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment) responsible for the disbursement of the fund;
(d) The youths who were successful and received the loans failed and/or neglected to repay the loans
(e) The limited knowledge of business and innovation displayed by the youths casts into grave doubt the impact of the US$1 million that was dedicated for capacity building.
(f) The youth initiatives were not adequately monitored, which motivated these youths to divert the funds towards luxuries such as buying cars, sex and paying lobola among others;
(g) The fund was largely perceived as having been hijacked for political expediency.
The trust recommends that all cases of alleged nepotism and politicisation in the disbursement of the fund should be investigated and culprits brought to book; and that all those above the age of 35 years who benefitted from the fund should be identified, investigated and forced to pay back the loan advanced together with punitive interest.