Some youths across the country have complained about the way the K8 billion loan under the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medf) is being distributed across the country claiming most of its beneficiaries are ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) symphathisers.
In March, President Peter Mutharika launched the loan facility as a way of ensuring that the youth and women are empowered.
However, there have been growing concerns that the loan facility is only benefiting DPP loyalists.
When we made attempts to talk to Medf Chief Executive Officer Mervis Mangulenje during the week, her phone was answered by someone else who said Mangulenje was in a meeting.
“Just leave a message with me because she is currently in a meeting and she told me to take her calls relay the message when she is out [of the meeting] she will give you a call,” said the person.
When we visited Chileka Township in Blantyre some residents claimed that they were denied forms to access the loans when they said they do not support DPP.
A couple of people we spoke to last week that officials from Medf were giving out forms but they were giving preference to individuals who were identified as DPP supporters.
“Last week, people came here giving out forms for the loans. However, they were asking for one’s party affiliation and if they established that you do not belong to the ruling party, the forms were not given to you,” said our source.
A couple of interviews that we did in some parts of the Northern Region corroborated with our source in Blantyre.
One of the vendors in Mzuzu flea market confided in us that during the selection of beneficiaries, authorities in the market were targeting benches of vendors who support the DPP.
“The forms were being circulated to those who support the government. We know them. They go to their rallies and they openly speak of their allegiance to the DPP,” he said.
According to the sources, at one point, some of the vendors ganged up and quizzed their section chairpersons on the criteria they were using to select beneficiaries.
“After tensed talks with them, the process was stopped and the next day, other forms were produced, though they had different features when compared to the first one. Some of us filled the forms but we believe they will not be used. We think they will still use the first forms which were circulated to DPP supporters,” he said.
His counterpart in the same market who also opted for anonymity said they are worried that the money being used was supposed to benefit everybody considering that it is tax payers’ money.
But chairperson of the market, James Kasambala, said he is not aware of the allegations
The story is similar to what some vendors in Rumphi District told this paper.
It is alleged that those who were entrusted with mandate to shortlist names of the beneficiaries were DPP loyalists which puts more questions to the fairness of the whole process.
“They were going round in the areas and here at the Boma shortlisting names of possible candidates to the loans. I have not received any of the forms but I know what was happening,” he said.
Rumphi Market Chairperson, Allan Beza, said he also has just been hearing that people were being shortlisted for the loans but never took part in the selection process as an authority in the market.
But Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development Joseph Mwanamvekha disputed the claims further saying the forms that Medf is giving out do not have a facility of a party affiliation.
Mwanamvekha further said during this campaign period, people are capable of fabricating lies for political gains.
“I suggest the people come out in the open and mention the individuals who refused to give them forms on the basis that they are not DPP. When you look at the forms, you will not find anything on it where it says which party one belongs to. This week, there was a pullout in the papers of forms; go and look at them and you will see that these claims do not hold.
“Go to the ground and investigate then you will establish the reality on the ground. Apart from that, we are in campaign period some people just spread lies. But I can tell you that it is not true,” he said.
Youth and Society Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka said the news is not surprising arguing Medf is not working with youth organisations.
“Medf is not working with any youth actors. We are made to believe that they are using political party structures.
“We tried on our part to engage them so that they work with youth structures such as district youth offices because it is easy to establish those that are in need. We have a lot of stakeholders working with the youth who are better placed to know who is eligible for this loan. Unfortunately, Medf has chosen to make this a political thing. I have heard and witnessed scenarios where those given the loans are ruling party sympathisers,” he said.
After the launch of the K8 billion ambitious programme, analysts questioned the timing of the loan fund branding it as a ploy to woo women and youths’ votes in the forthcoming fresh presidential elections.