MINISTER of Youth, Sport and Arts Elvis Nkandu says a lot of beneficiaries who were given empowerment funds a few days before elections considered the money as compensation.

Asked what major challenges the Ministry was encountering in the loan recovery process, Nkandu said there was a negative attitude from some beneficiaries.

“One of the issues that we should not overlook is the COVID-19 itself, it didn’t spare anyone. That’s a major challenge we faced. Secondly, the negative attitude of our people especially when they get money from the government. This is where we need to have a mind change shift. I believe there are a lot of people getting money from these Micro financial institutions with collateral and they are paying back. But this is the government which is giving them without the collateral, without anything and yet it is difficult for them to pay back. But I believe it is the mindset. So we must have a mindset shift especially to paying back the loans,” he said in an interview.

“The third one, we need to know at what time we should be giving these empowerment funds. You know we are in this problem because a lot of empowerment funds were given in the month of elections, some of them two days, a day before elections. So a lot of people thought that those were not loans. To some extent, it was more like a compensation. Those that insulted people, those that maimed people, those that had inflicted pain on the opposition. So when you are given such an empowerment, you tend to think that it is your benefit.”

Nkandu, however, said his ministry was making steady progress in recovering the funds, and further revealed that they might resume disbursing some loans in the next two weeks.

“The percentage is low but I would say that when I met those we call PYCs that is Provincial Youth Coordinators, I was impressed by the recoveries. Because you know, when you are at zero and now people are saying that here we have collected 1.2, 500. Just on the empowerment funds, we are now at about 3 million somewhere about. Then from the tanker trucks, it has now shot to about 24-25 million. So I think for me, steadily people have come to the fore and now they have started paying because of the engagements, the monitoring mechanisms that we have put in place, I think they have started paying. So I believe we are doing okay and I think in the next two weeks we will start disbursing the loans again,” said Nkandu.

“We should not be giving out money to people that do not understand any business. It is better we start mentoring our people before they get this money. Or we give them and connect them to a mentorship programme so that they understand what they are going into. Some of them, it’s just a lack of knowledge, they think that when they are given money, they should just go and use it without even thinking of paying back. We have also looked at the issue of monitoring. You just can’t give out money without follow-ups. I think that was also a drawback because even now the people that I have not met are saying they have not been given the account number and so how do we deposit the money. So it’s like everything was done haphazardly without even knowing what they were doing.”