The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development which visited Masvingo on a fact finding mission to assess the performance of beneficiaries of the Women Development Fund, have expressed dismay over the failure to repay loans by groups who received large amounts of money.

More than US$300 000 was disbursed to women groups in Masvingo between 2010 and 2015 under the Women’s Development Fund programme.

While the repayment rate of the loans by beneficiaries is pegged at an average of 80 percent, concern has been raised that those failing to pay are groups who were given large amounts.

This has raised concern on the criteria used to disburse the loans, with the portfolio committee calling for closer scrutiny on the awarding of loans.

Some of the beneficiaries of the loans who are failing to repay the loans were at pains to explain to the committee on their failure to honour the payment agreements.

The committee led by Cde Beatrice Nyamupinga said the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development needs to have a follow-up plan and ensure that the disbursed funds are being used for viable projects.

“The issue of follow-up is very important. Most of the people seem to be doing something when they come to the offices, yet in actual fact there is nothing on the ground. What the committee didn’t like was big amounts being given to individuals who pretended to be groups yet they had no projects on ground. They are now failing to pay,” said Cde Nyamupinga.

The Women Development Fund is meant to be a revolving scheme that ensured more women benefit from the loans once the initial beneficiaries pay back their loans.

The findings of the committee will be presented to parliament after visiting all the provinces.