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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 12
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
November 07, 2011

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CDF: Time to Name & Shame

This is the third time since we launched the Parliamentary Monitor that we discuss the extent to which the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was used and abused. While there has been very little movement towards fully establishing what happened, there was a glimmer of hope with the news that there are some Members of Parliament who have been identified as having abused the fund. It is said about 12 MPs allegedly abused the fund. This could have been a relief but: mere figure, 12, will not help us much in identifying the culprits. It is important that the 12 be named. Voters need to know who abused the funds and they would then take the necessary steps, of either rewarding or punishing the culprit. It is up to the ‘clean’ MPs to push for the naming and shaming of the culprits. This will also save them as with the nameless 12, every MP is a suspect and would have a torrid time explaining issues. We have seen the loopholes that come with this noble fund. What are the lessons learnt especially with the alleged and yet to be proven cases of abuse? If there are no lessons learnt, then we are likely to be discussing the same issue next year this time. Our proposals would be that application for the fund be professionalised. This will entail giving a detailed report say at every critical stage of the implementation of the fund. It is also important that the monitoring of the implementation of the projects be withdrawn from the executive and be given to a body that will be quick to highlight the possible gaps.

Lessons can be learnt from what happens in Kenya where a similar fund is operational. The argument that there is no funding for the monitoring/audit, loses its strength when one looks at the benefits that come with effective monitoring. It is also important to look at ways of further expanding the fund so that it benefits the communities. this, we have always been arguing can easily be achieved by making sure that the amounts allocated to CDF are indexed to the national budget. This will enable the fund to grow/ shrink in relation to the national budget and while the total budget could be long now, it will improve with a possible economic rebound and this will also see an increase in the amount allocated to the fund. This is one sure way of tying development to the national budget. In the absence of such indexing, there is nothing that stops the treasury from starving the constituencies.

Finally, what has not been said about CDF is the cheap politicking by the MPs who claimed that they had sourced funds for projects. This is a clear sign of the manipulative nature of our politics. It is thus important to have clear information provision mechanisms so that the people know where the funds are coming from. This is one sure way to empower the communities so that they will be able to make demands with regards to allocation of the resources. If we let MPs continuing to lie that they sourced own funds, then there is no platform for the people to engage, question and make suggestion.

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