By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
24 March 2014
The brother of a ZANU PF minister who administered a government youth fund has been named as one of the many beneficiaries who have defaulted on loans, amid allegations that the scheme mostly benefited ZANU PF youth.
Tongai Kasukuwere, whose brother Saviour Kasukuwere was Minister of Youth and Indigenization when the fund was established, is reported to have received $5,000 through his company, claiming it was for a horticultural project.
But none of the money has been repaid and the project has not produced any results either, according to NewZimbabwe.com news site. Legislators were told last week that Saviour’s ministry was solely responsible for deciding who gets the loans and instructing the banks to disburse the funds.
Testifying before the Parliamentary Committee on Youth, Indigenization and Empowerment last Thursday, one of the bank executives said over seventy percent of the loans remain unpaid.
Tongai Kasukuwere is a ZANU PF Secretary for External Affairs and his brother Saviour is now the Minister for Environment. NewZimbabwe said Tongai received the loan together with Cecilia Chivhunga, the ZANU PF youth league Deputy Secretary for Information.
According to Tongai Matutu, who was the MDC-T deputy Minister for Indigenization under Kasukuwere, the youth fund was a ZANU PF political gimmick meant to boost their support base.
Matutu told SW Radio Africa that an estimated 95% of those who got the loans were ZANU PF members and supporters, and the majority never meant to pay back the loans or use them for empowerment projects.
“The Minister Saviour Kasukuwere exercised biased in favour of ZANU PF youth. More so those youth were not properly vetted. Those who went to collect money from the bank were referred either by him or through other political structures within the ZANU PF rank and file,” Matutu said.
He added: “So it was not based on the profitability or bankability of the project but on political allegiance and affiliation. Hence those people are failing to pay because those projects were never properly assessed by the bank itself.”
Tongai Kasukuwere, who got his loan “for horticulture purposes”, has allegedly failed to service the debt due to “poor planning and project management as well as unwillingness to pay”.
As for Saviour Kasukuwere, Matutu alleged that the Minister used to distribute money from the youth fund to supporters at ZANU PF rallies, without vetting them or even asking what projects they were planning on spending it on.
Matutu admitted that there were a few beneficiaries who presented sustainable projects and got the money “on merit”, but he estimated that 95% of those who received funding were ZANU PF. Many bought expensive suits and shoes and others simply went drinking and had a good time.
The few success stories are also the only ones who have managed to repay their loans, according to the former deputy Youth Minister.