MPs’ failure to submit paperwork delays CDF

HARARE – Legislators’ failure to submit the necessary paperwork is stalling the disbursement of Constituency Development Funds (CDF).

In a circular to Members of Parliament, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda encouraged legislators to “attend to the matter urgently.”

He said only two constituencies out of 210 had fully complied with the CDF Parliamentary Staff Management Committee provisions and would soon receive the payouts.

Constituency Development Committees are required to identify projects within their constituencies by conducting consultative processes with all stakeholders in the constituency which must then be approved by the committee.

“To date, only 129 constituencies have submitted the initial documentation and their bank accounts. Out of that figure only two have fully complied with the CDF Constitution and the Accounting Officers’ Manual and have submitted their project list as well as the estimated cost for their identified projects,” Mudenda said.

“The Management Committee has set in motion the process of disbursing their money which is expected in their bank accounts anytime soon. Five submissions did not comply with the provisions of the CDF Constitution and 74 have not made any submission at all.

“Honorable members, you are urged to attend to this matter urgently. This is to your advantage in promoting development in your respective constituencies. This circular, I have asked staff to ensure that this circular is in your pigeon holes. Collect it so that you are guided accordingly.”

To access the CDF, MPs must submit their bank account numbers, a list of identified projects, a minimum of three quotations for each project showing the estimated cost of each project and signed minutes of the CDF Committee showing approval of projects.

The total estimated cost for all identified projects must not exceed $50 000.

“Those four conditions must be met,” Mudenda said.

“Please note the quotations are required for purposes of calculating the estimated cost of each project and not for approval of projects by the Parliamentary Staff Management Committee. Constituencies are therefore urged to comply with the above instructions in order to enable the Parliamentary Staff Management Committee to release money into the Constituency Development Committee bank accounts.”

The fund was first introduced by former Finance minister, Tendai Biti, in 2010.

A year after it was unveiled, the fund collapsed due to budgetary constraints and the absence of a legal framework to govern it.

At the time, a number of MPs were accused of dipping their fingers into the fund, with many of the lawmakers failing the transparency and accountability test.

About four legislators were arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission, and appeared in court facing charges of abusing the fund.

The cases later fizzled out because there was no proper legal framework to successfully prosecute the culprits.

Government is now seeking to reintroduce the fund through the Constituency Development Fund Bill which is meant to curtail abuse of the facility, according to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.