MPs to share $5m in CDF

HARARE - Members of Parliament will next year share a total of $5 million in Constituency Development Funds (CDF) in an allocation that will bankroll the MP’s re-election campaign projects.

Finance minister Tendai Biti told Parliament on Thursday during the 2013 national budget presentation that the MPs were going to be receiving another tranche of the money for development projects in the constituencies.

MPs had shouted from the benches asking Biti about CDF.

The minister informed the house that he had made provision for the fund, which has been sullied by allegations of embezzlement by some legislators.

“I know that we shall be going to elections and you need the CDF money for projects in your constituencies. The money will be provided for,” said Biti.

The money will be shared equally amongst the 210 MPs, with each MP getting $25 000.

This is half of the $50 000 that was allocated in the 2011 fiscal year. There was no CDF in the just ended financial year.

MPs are the sole beneficiaries of the funds with Senators being ex-officio members in the administration of the funds.
However, cases of misappropriation of the funds arose with 10 MPs facing allegations of abusing the funds. They were arraigned before the courts and later freed.

Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga told the Daily News that officials from his ministry are investigating.

“We are carrying an audit countrywide and this month we are covering Manicaland and Matabeleland provinces.

“So far we identified anomalies in four constituencies and have referred the matter for prosecution to the Attorney General’s office.”

Matinenga said no MP was going to get away scot-free in the event that they abused the CDF.

“Even if the tenure of Parliament ends, MPs who were found guilty of abusing the fund will face the full wrath of law, and the ending of the Parliament term does not mean the end of the matter.
 
“We can still pursue them. No matter will be swept under the carpet as there will be no sacred cow in the auditing,” said Matinenga.

He said MPs were expected to cooperate with the audit team and are supposed to be in their respective constituencies during the check.

Matinenga said his ministry does not have prosecuting powers but can only help in bringing accountability to the tax-payers by carrying out the audit.

“The public must know that we are doing something about it, but we don’t prosecute, this is why we found out four constituencies that the funds were abused, but so far we are continuing with our auditing,” said Matinenga.

Government was working on measures to protect the CDF from abuse by legislators hence the introduction of the CDF Bill which will deal with looters of the fund, he said.



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