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Zanu PF MP named in Youth Fund scam

By Lloyd Mbiba

HARARE – The Indigenisation and Empowerment parliamentary portfolio committee on Thursday queried beneficiaries of the Youth Fund, and how Stanbic Bank disbursed more than $5 million to Zanu PF officials under suspicious circumstances.

Makhosini Hlongwane
Makhosini Hlongwane

At the centre of the storm were two recipients — Makhosini Hlongwane and Dumisai Kodzai — whose ages and suitability for the loans were strongly questioned by the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led committee.

Hlongwane, a former journalist with ZBC but now a Zanu PF MP for Mberengwa East, received $32 380 purportedly for capitalising a bakery in Zvishavane.

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Kodzai received a staggering $420 000 for a “distribution” business.

The disbursements were made during the tenure of Savior Kasukuwere as Indigenisation minister, and youths were supposed to receive a maximum of $5 000 each. Kasukuwere has rebuffed calls to appear before the committee.

The Youth Fund is accessible to youths aged between 18 and 35 years old.

Amos Chibaya, MDC MP for Mkoba, was the first to raise alarm, questioning why Hlongwane got $32 580 yet he was not a youth.

“From my understanding, the funds were for youths aged between 21 and 35, but if you look at page two, we have the name of honourable Hlongwane as one of the beneficiaries,” Chibaya said.

“He got $32 580 in 2012 and since when did the honourable MP become a youth?

“I can tell you that Hlongwane is not a youth and when he received the money he was not a youth.  Can the bank explain to us how did he receive the money?” charged Chibaya.

Pattison Mahachi, Stanbic Bank head of business, tried to dodge the question by saying that he did not bring the beneficiaries’ identification documents with him.

This led to chairman Wadyajena to interject and tear into Mahachi.

“We wrote to you on April 11 this year seeking all the information pertaining to the beneficiaries and you decided to come without the IDs of the beneficiaries. This makes us think that you are hiding something and this is bad,” Wadyajena said.

“So can we say that people who misrepresented facts to the bank committed fraud?”

The committee was miffed by the list of beneficiaries which was riddled with “mistakes.”

Some of the beneficiaries from Midlands had Bulawayo addresses while others had wrong or non-existent addresses.

Thamsanqa Mahlangu, former deputy minister in the Indigenisation portfolio, disputed Kodzai’s Bulawayo business address, claiming it was fake.

Mahachi said he was not a legal expert and some of the youths entered into partnerships with people who were not necessarily youths.

“But I am looking at the memorandum of understanding between the bank and the ministry and it is clearly stated that directors of companies to benefit from the fund should be youths and what you are saying Mahachi is not correct,” said Wadyajena, forcing Mahachi to apologise.

Wadyajena’s committee raised questions on the amounts loaned to the youths, including the $150 000 accessed by one Mussa.

Wadyajena chided Mahachi and said the bank should avail all the information to the committee.

Meanwhile, Hlongwane told the Daily News in a separate interview yesterday that he had applied for a loan at Stanbic Bank for his businesses. He denied that he got the money under the Youth Fund.

“I did apply for a loan from Stanbic Bank,” he said. “The amount is $33 000 which was for operating capital for my business, but l did not apply for money from the Youth Fund. You can ask the bank to give you my application to verify the truth. However, I must add that during this year of congress, there will be a lot of irrational approach to issues.” Daily News