CDF abusers face jail

HARARE - Parliament is making moves to nail MPs who abuse the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) by coming up with a constitution that criminalises the practice.

Following the introduction of CDF during the seventh Parliament, there have been reports of rampant abuse of the money by legislators from across the political divide, at the expense of development of the constituencies that they represent.

MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa who chairs the parliamentary Legal and Procedural Affairs committee, told the Daily News the constitution will plug loopholes that enable abuse of the developmental funds.

“Previously there was no provision to deal with abusers of the fund but now this constitution deals with such mischief to make it a criminal offence and we will be presenting the final draft for adoption by the National Assembly today,” Chamisa said.

This comes in the wake of government releasing $5 million towards the CDF which will see each MP getting about $25 000 for their constituencies.

National Assembly Speaker, Jacob Mudenda made the announcement in Parliament on Tuesday adding that government also gave legislators residential stands to cater for their outstanding allowances.

“I have written you… individually, and the circular should be in your pigeon holes by 3pm today — where we confirm the transactions that you requested with only two provisos which concern the stands,” Mudenda said.

“As regards the CDF, that is in place. Treasury has marshalled in $5 m which should begin to flow into your various accounts provided you open up those accounts.

“Secondly, you also appoint a committee to take care of the funds, perhaps more importantly that the constitution of the fund is adopted by this House.

“The modalities are contained in the constitution and therefore, we appeal to you to expedite the passing of that constitution so that there is accountability.

“… Chamisa, you have come at the right time. I was going to say… Chamisa is going to move for the adoption of the constitution as you requested. Once that is in place, it will then create the modus operandi of the CDF. That will also allow Treasury to disburse the funds accordingly.

“If there is no committee in your constituency, it will not happen because this is public money”.

Mudenda made the announcement while responding to MDC MP Prosper Mutseyami who is the chairperson of the legislators’ welfare committee after he had sought to know what progress had been made in terms of paying them their sitting allowances which government owes them.

In 2012, government identified 20 extreme cases where MPs abused CDF money. About four legislators were arrested on allegations of abusing the Fund, but their prosecution was stopped after the then Attorney General Johannes Tomana, raised concern that there was no proper legal framework to successfully prosecute them.

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