THE majority of youths in Tsholotsho who received loans from Government to start income generating projects skipped the country and headed to South Africa resulting in only $7 000 being repaid from the $87 000 that was disbursed. Matabeleland North provincial head in the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Mr Buthumuzi Ngwenya revealed this on Friday while making a presentation at a provincial advocacy meeting for HIV programming for displaced communities in Bulawayo.
The meeting, which was organised by the National Aids Council, was attended by heads of department from various ministries in an effort to counter other disasters that might affect the more than 800 flood victims accommodated at Sipepa Camp in Tsholotsho.
Mr Ngwenya said the problem of floods in Tsholotsho is part of a myriad of challenges that needed urgent attention in the district.
He said most of the youths who benefited from Kurera/Ukondla Youth Fund left for South Africa with the money.
"Floods are the least thing that the people in Tsholotsho needed because the district already has more problems than other districts. Out of the seven districts in the province, Tsholotsho was the worst in terms of repayment of the Youth Fund. The district received $87 000. Out of that money $80 000 disappeared. The youths were receiving $1 200 as individuals and most of them didn't repay.
"They left for South Africa and used the money for their upkeep in the neighbouring country as they looked for jobs. It's difficult to trace them," said Mr Ngwenya.
He said 90 percent of the youths in Binga managed to pay back the money while other districts including Nkayi, Umguza, Hwange and Lupane also tried to pay back the loans.
Mr Ngwenya said it was difficult to use traditional leaders to trace the youths as some of the leaders also benefited from Government funds but never paid back.
"Some of the chiefs are defaulters so it's difficult to get assistance from them. We, therefore, need multi-sectoral programming that will help our youths focus on skills development and be able to be innovative and work without being pushed.
"Now that the floods have come and gone, we must not rest. We have to come up with measures that will make the people in Tsholotsho less vulnerable. They should be able to survive in whatever circumstances," he said.
Mr Ngwenya said some youths in the area go to South Africa before they finish school, where they do menial jobs.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko is on record as urging young people to shun the habit of travelling to South Africa illegally, saying there was nothing for them but death in the neighbouring country.
VP Mphoko, who is also Zimbabwe's former Ambassador to South Africa, said he was speaking from experience as he had come across cases of young boys and girls who left school and ended up being exploited to become sex slaves and homosexuals.