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Lazarus Chakwera tells politicians off on Neef

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Patricia Kaliati

President Lazarus Chakwera has condemned some members of Tonse Alliance for conspiring to use National Economic Empowerment Fund (Neef) to reward party loyalists.

The President said this in Lilongwe Monday during the opening of the Businesswomen’s Summit which National Association of Business Women (Nabw) and Feminist Microeconomics Alliance organised.

“I have noted with grave concern that, within our own parties of the Tonse Alliance, there are people conspiring to politicise the loans programme by using its funding scheme as a way of rewarding party followers.

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“But this is unsustainable and toxic because the prosperity I want to see Neef facilitate is national, not partisan,” Chakwera said.

He further said he was not satisfied with progress made in loan disbursement, directing the Ministry of Finance to intervene.

Chakwera said his administration would support women through the provision of business capital under Neef.

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The President called on those that are running Neef to ensure that the best business ideas are supported on merit and not based on political affiliation.

“In short, those of you who are politicians must keep fingers away from the running of this programme because Neef is not a toy for you to play with,” Chakwera said.

He further pointed out that he had been inundated with complaints about how prohibitive Neef loans are.

The President asked Ministry of Finance officials to work with Neef and commercial banks to devise solutions before the next fiscal year.

Former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who joined the event virtually, called for policies and actions that would bring transformative change to enable girls to grow in an environment of equity, justice and inclusion.

Nabw Executive Director Barbara Banda said women in the country were facing entry-point barriers in accessing finances for their business.

She said some women were not good at keeping records and did not have technical skills to allow them to do things they want to.

Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Minister Patricia Kaliati said her ministry had put in place strategies and measures meant to uplift women in the country.

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