Zvamaida Murwira in Bulawayo
Members of Parliament on a fact-finding visit here yesterday failed to find functional projects on given addresses of beneficiaries of the $40 million Youth Development Fund, as those who received the money had either deserted the areas or provided non-existent physical addresses.
The Portfolio Committee on Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena (zanu-pf) conducted a fact-finding tour in Bulawayo on the utilisation of the fund after reports of abuse emerged, resulting in Government suspending the fund.
It also emerged yesterday that the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment under the stewardship of the then minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, neither conducted training nor supervised beneficiaries.
Minister Kasukuwere is now Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. Some of the beneficiaries were just idle with nothing to show that they once received the money when the committee visited the given addresses.
Some of them got as much as $3 000, with some of the residential addresses now occupied by new occupants with no or little information on the whereabouts of the beneficiaries of the Youth Fund.
The committee, supported by Southern African Parliamentary Trust, toured given projects sites in Bulawayo, most of which were residential areas, but failed to find any activity except at one place near Khumalo suburb.
Some of the suburbs visited were in Lobengula, Magwegwe and Pumula, but in more than 80 percent of the areas, the beneficiaries no longer resided at the given addresses.
One of the beneficiaries was at the given address, but was just idle, saying his business collapsed because he did not have adequate training on running a viable business.
Sijabuliso Billah blamed the Ministry for failing to give him training and lack of supervision as one of the major factors contributing to the absence of viability to his business.
“Another problem is that the ministry should have directed banks to pay to suppliers not to beneficiaries as is the case with me,” he said.
Earlier on, Bulawayo provincial youth development head, Mr Oversee Dube, told the legislators that they did not supervise most of the projects because of a number of reasons, one of which was that they did not have information on who the beneficiaries were.
He said one of the disbursing financial institutions, Stanbic Bank, refused to cooperate with them when they approached it citing bank/client confidentiality.
Mr Dube said with respect to CBZ, Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe and ZABG, applicants would come through their ministry, hence they were involved in the assessment and supervision of projects.
Cde Wadyajena rapped the ministry, saying they failed to demonstrate that they were supervising the projects given the high default rate and the fact that most projects had ceased to be functional