There are sharp differences among Zimbabwean youths over the country’s indigenization program with those affiliated to Zanu-PF saying they are now reaping the benefits of the program.
On the other hand, independent youths and others affiliated to the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), opposition parties and some non-governmental organizations claim that they are not accessing funds set aside for youth economic empowerment.
At least $30 million sourced in the past two years from various foreign-owned firms, which are partially complying with the indigenization law in the form of empowerment credits, is being administered by banks such as the central African building society.
Youths are expected to draft project proposals in order to access the revolving funds.
One of the beneficiaries, William Shambare, says he received $1,500 after going through a cumbersome process of writing project proposals, a stage that discourages most youths.
Harare youth, Chengetai Shumba, has not been as lucky as Shambare. He has failed to access the funds. But he says some of his friends, including several youths in the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations, have embarked on several income-generating projects after getting start up capital of between $600 and $5,000 each.
However, Promise Mkwanazi, Youth League secretary general of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, believes that the youth empowerment scheme is too politically-partisan.
Nkosinathi Moyo of the Midlands-based Zimbabwe Organization for Youth in Politics, concurs, noting that some of his colleagues don’t even bother writing project proposals as they are skeptical about the program.
According to the ministry of youth and economic empowerment, loan applicants should be aged between 18 and 35 years and legally constituted in the form of a business or individuals with viable projects.
The loan term is one year and collateral is in the form of property such as houses, furniture, livestock, vehicles and other items.
The indigenization ministry could not readily provide figures of the number of youths that have so far benefited from the empowerment scheme.