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The Government has launched an investigation into how banks distributed the $10 million youth fund following complaints that many intended beneficiaries were left out.

Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Chris Mushohwe told a youth gathering in Bulawayo last week that the loans, which were availed in 2011 through the KureraUkondla Fund, have not been properly utilised.

He said most intended beneficiaries had raised complaints to the Government saying they did not get the money while those who got it are yet to pay back.

The loans were accessible through banks such as CBZ and CABS.

The minister said CBZ alone collected close to $3 million for lending to youth economic projects.

“Almost 97 percent of the YDF has not been paid back. The Government had given some shares as collateral and CBZ has collected close to $3 million towards repayment. I’ve been in this office for only six months and there are many irregularities,” said Minister Mushohwe while addressing the youth in Sizinda.

“I want to know if banks created their own beneficiaries because other provinces exceeded their allocations. I said to the banks, I’ll not accept or deny your complaints. I need to carry out this investigation by aligning information from the banks and the provinces.

“This is a national programme. What now needs to be done is to find out if the model used was faulty, was it lack of training from management or not enough information was given to the beneficiaries on what the funds were meant to be used on. The margin of error frightens me so much.”

The minister said individuals or groups who benefited should own up and make repayment plans with the banks.

He said banks have already started sending letters of final demand to all beneficiaries.

“Those who’re failing to repay should own up so that the issue is resolved amicably. The names of all the beneficiaries from the 10 provinces have been found. That money doesn’t belong to the banks. It’s the depositor’s money.

“If you fail to repay the loans, the banks will simply demand the funds from the Government,” said the minister.

MInister Mushohwe said the Youth Development Fund was a national initiative that should not die.

He said he was conducting a nationwide tour to find out what went wrong in the disbursement of funds to rectify the anomalies.

Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and others had the highest number of beneficiaries when compared to Matabeleland North and South and Bulawayo provinces.

The funding was meant to empower the country’s youths and facilitate fruition of the indigenisation and empowerment policy.

Source : The Herald