Women Funds benefits the connected

HARARE – Women Development Funds (WDF) disbursed by the Women ministry is benefiting well-connected groups, the parliamentary committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development has revealed.

Presenting a report in the National Assembly this week, the committee chairperson Beatrice Nyamupinga said they noted inequitable distribution of the available funds.

“It is the view of the committee that the state of WDF communication has been and will continue to benefit the few well connected groups of women while the majority of marginalised women will continue to be excluded from benefiting from the fund.

“This is totally against the letter and spirit of the National Gender Policy (2013 – 2017) recognition of the need for broad inclusion of women and participation of women in the economy.

“Your committee is, however, concerned that there were many women groups that applied and qualified to get funding but could not get the loan due to funds shortages. The committee also observed cases of poor or inequitable distribution of the available funds.

“A case in point is in Masvingo Province where one group into mining project, got funding to the tune of $12 000.  The project is no longer viable and they are failing to repay the loan. The amount, if fairly distributed could have benefited many deserving groups rather than one group.”

Nyamupinga added that WDF, a government facility meant to empower the economically-marginalised women in communities; should revise interest rates downwards.

“In addition, the committee was concerned that WDF provision and disbursement was rather little and erratic. The committee was informed that in 2016 the fund was allocated ($300 000) but not released by Treasury.

“As of February 2017 the $600 000 earmarked for the revolving fund had not been disbursed as well. This left many women groups, especially those in rural areas without access to credit facilities.

“The committee is of the view that with the shortage of Ward Development Coordinators being experienced, and the total lack of vehicles for the project, the ministry does not have the capacity to fully monitor its projects. This means the WDF is likely to continue to be abused until measures are put in place to rectify the anomaly.”

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