By Tariro Senderayi
You can only imagine how I was bubbling with excitement when I was informed that I would be attending this meeting as a representative of the youth. The agenda of the meeting was a post budget analysis in terms of how the allocations of resources affect the Ministry of Youth. This is after our Honourable Minister of Finance announced the Budget Bill on the 27th of November 2015.
Let me break it down for you, when a national budget is at the proposal stage it is referred to as a bill. A bill is a legislative instrument that is proposed and is subject to open discussion by a variety of the economy’s stakeholders whose input is tantamount before it is passed as a law. Thus, this consultative meeting serves to address any anomalies or points that are not agreed upon that can be discussed and a consensus is reached. These points emanate from the various ministries in the country and such contributions are debated upon and could be included in the final outcome of the budget.
Parliamentary meetings and sittings are often exciting to attend for a young person of my interests. However, that bubble of excitement is prone to deflation due to red tape surrounding such occasions. Such red tape encompasses a colourful kaleidoscope of factors that I will take the liberty to mention.
Firstly, the delay in start time is a wet blanket because by the time they start the meeting your excitement will be diminished to a point of non-existence. Instead of beginning at 1400Hrs as per the documentation, the delay ensures that you begin almost half an hour late.
Secondly, our honourable Members of Parliament seem to have knack for arriving late, even if they make it on time they adopt a shocking behaviour that is characterised by the leaving of the meeting frequently or better yet catching up on some lost siesta time in the meeting.
Lastly, these meetings are marred with too much documentation and they do not make any copies for us which is a bit disheartening because we would like to know what exactly would be touched on in the meeting. It also doesn’t help matters much when the findings are rushed through so that you can’t help but think a hurricane just swept by.
Unfortunately, I was itching to make some contributions but apparently we are barred from such undertakings. So I had to settle as a mute observer in the meeting.
Anyway, what young people may find useful from the meeting is the Localised Empowerment Accelerated Fund (LEAF) – a USD$10 million facility targeted at encouraging self-employment amongst the youth.
Each constituency in Zimbabwe has been allocated USD $45,000 each. Beneficiaries under the Fund shall be recommended by local leadership. They have adopted the carrot and stick method of evaluating the scheme. Those who benefitted and succeeded in repaying the loans stand to benefit again with other young people who have projects worthy of being funded could be in luck.
What piqued my interest is the fact that the LEAF scheme has proved to be highly controversial at the moment. Many young people wish to know who benefitted from the previous programme and who shall benefit in the current one. Furthermore, they want to know from which constituencies did these beneficiaries hail, how much they were allocated, if they fell in the bracket of youth, or were they older? They also want to know who managed to repay the loans and who the defaulters are.
‘Defaulters’ are those who benefitted from the previous scheme but have failed to meet their obligation as per agreement. Another vital contribution was that apparently legal action in the guise of summons is to be actioned against the said defaulters. Actually the committee representative demanded that a detailed report be produced before the end of the year. This move I applauded passionately because we as young people have the right to know if the beneficiaries are genuine or not. If not someone has to be held accountable.