Copac to swallow CDF funds

HARARE - Government plans to divert money meant for community projects to fund a constitution-making process hijacked by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s ruling parties.

Communities across Zimbabwe have been benefitting from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), under which MPs were given $50 000 each to develop their constituencies.

This could soon be a thing of the past after the broke coalition government chose to channel the money towards the completion of the new constitution, which has largely been a negotiated settlement between Zanu PF and the MDCs.

Government is now using funds meant for community development to settle a debt accumulated by the Constitution Select Committee (Copac), a cross party parliamentary body tasked with crafting the new governance charter.

The parliamentary committee on Justice, Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs last week engaged senior officials from the ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs over the issue.

According to the committee chairperson Douglas Mwonzora, MPs were querying when they would receive funds under the CDF when they were informed of the decision.

The ministry was allocated $8,2 million during the 2013 budget by minister of Finance Tendai Biti, with $5 million earmarked towards CDF projects.

Virginia Mabhiza, the permanent secretary in the ministry, told the committee during a closed meeting on Tuesday last week at Parliament building that the CDF money would be channelled towards Copac bills.
Committee members told.

Mabhiza that it was illegal to divert CDF cash for Copac business, saying there was need to probe the legality of such an action.

MPs rejected the proposal and demanded that the ministry disburses CDF funds in the next financial year.

Mabhiza refused to comment when contacted by the Daily News.

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