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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 2
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
August 22, 2011

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CDF: Good Intentions, Bad Implementation

The Constituency Development Fund, a case of a brilliant initiative which has gone wrong! With more than 100 Members of Parliament failing to account for how they used US$50 000 drawn under CDF, it is evident that some of the legislatures thought this was one of those benefits they can abuse. Investigations by PMT Zimbabwe have shown that there are areas of concern raised by communities over the implementation of CDF. In most cases, the communities said they were not consulted by their respective House of Assembly representative on which initiatives to take. Consultation, by both governmental and non governmental players, remains a grey area in initiating development in Zimbabwe and the implementation of CDF has also gone to show this. The results? White elephants, irrelevant development initiatives and duplication of initiative as was the case in one constituency where the MP bought a water tank for a school which already have enough reservoirs. “We could have done better with say more pipes to supply water to teachers’ houses,” the headmaster of the school said. It was also evident that despite having been representatives for more than two years, some of the MPs did not have a clear developmental agenda for their constituencies. There were cases of MPs rushing to prepare irrelevant proposals in a bid to draw down on the fund with no significant changes to the communities. Apart from the lack f consultations it has also been shown that in implementing CDF, MPs used the fund as a an instrument of patronage. In some cases, the MPs used it as a to the people that they had sourced funds for development. The truth is these were government fund. In some cases, the media failed to play a critical role in mentioning that this development in initiative was part of the implementation of CDF. It was very unclear in the electronic media how the MP sourced US$50 000. MPs also used this as a carrot lying there was no clarity on what the fund was all about and who had made resources available. Some of the MPs who had not done anything used it as a form of payback to those who supported their bid for election in 2008. The result? There were impromptu projects some of them very unsustainable while others were irrelevant to the aspirations of the communities. In some constituencies, it was clear that some of the communities were not aware what was happening referring to some of the projects as councilor so and so’s effort. There are a number of lessons learnt from the implementation of CDF and to avoid the same pitfalls both MPs and government should take note of some of the issues raised by constituencies. It is important that after the full implementation of CDF round 1, there is proper monitoring and evaluation of the projects undertaken. It is important to note that despite the apprehension expressed by MPs when Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced CDF during the presentation of the 2010 budget access has been open.

It is important to note that CDF was the first time that government introduced a specific fund for constituencies as prior to this, decentralised project funding from the fiscus was through local government structures especially at provincial and district levels. This deviation from the structured approach, which had proven a failure, generated interest amongst communities, MPs, the central government and civic society. CDF is not unique to Zimbabwe as it was also introduced (in 2003) in Kenya through an Act of Parliament though. Decentralisation in Zimbabwe has presented a number of problems and the institution of CDF was aimed at addressing development in the country and at the same time surmount the problems presented by decentralized development. Problems presented by decentralized development include the conflict between political leaders and administrators, the elected members of parliament and district administrators (DAs). A comparative analysis between Zimbabwe and Kenya (where CDF has also been implemented) shows that there are administrative and structural differences between the two. Kenya introduced CDF in 2003 and there is an independent organ that looks at the administration of the fund unlike our case here. This fund is also a creation of an Act of Parliament and a certain percentage (2.5%) of the budget goes into CDF. In Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs administers the fund. A lot can be learnt from Kenya’s implementation of CDF.

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