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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 22
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
February 08, 2012

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No sacred cows

The latest on Members of Parliament who abused CDF has shown that four male have failed to account. The names are being withheld as the issue has been referred to the Global Political Agreement Principals. There are problems with this move and some of them are:

This has nothing to do with the GPA. The elections of MPs preceded the signing of the GPA. It is wrong to use the GPA as an instrument to govern/regulate the operations of a constitutional body like Parliament. As it stands, the principals of the GPA, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy Arthur Mutambara, are the executive thus referring an issue like abuse of funds by MPs is collapsing the frontiers of the three pillars of the state. We are deliberately oblite-rating these and the doctrine of the separation of powers. We may be creating our own dictators. While Zanu PF and MDC-T are undisputed principals, anyone can see that the same cannot be said about DPM Mutambara. There are issues before the courts and until these have been settled, it may be wrong to refer an issue to DPM Mutambara. Imagine what would have happened if one of the MPs was from his party? The only joy is that MPs from Matabeleland have all been accountable. This means that for the other MDC, they could be mere observers.

We could be setting a very bad precedence here. There are processes and procedure to follow should one realise that there has been fraud, theft, robbery or abuse of trust. The most logical thing to do is to take the issue to the police, they are the best people to deal with this. What would happen if the principals say pardon them? We are taking a very long route to clear people accused of abusing public trust. The funds they abused were meant for basic development. There are times when in pursuit of justice, action is taken not to compensate the injured but to deter those who may also want to do the same one example is jailing someone for murder. Some of the facts, as we scanned through the press clippings are:

  • The list has been whittled down from seven to four.
  • All four are male MPs
  • One is a former provincial governor

The issue is not failing to account, as is the case with the other 20+ but diversion of the funds The four are equally distributed between MDC-T and Zanu PF

What is CDF?

It is a fund that was established in 2009, and started operating under the 2010 fiscal year, aimed at making basic constituency based development projects. There was a an upper limit of US$50 000 per constituency.

Lessons learnt:

There should be a training of the MPs on how to handle the fund. A more robust monitoring mechanism be adopted. Yes there should be audit but there should also be a monitoring and evaluating mechanism. It is one thing to account for and anther to have an impact!

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