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Harare East Constituency Development Fund (CDF) report
Harare Residents' Trust (HRT)
July 01, 2013

Introduction

The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) has a mission to ‘build capacity for productive engagement among residents, service providers and their elected representatives as means to improving living standards in communities’. One of its key objectives is to ‘monitor and audit the performance of service providers and policymakers so that they deliver quality and affordable services to the citizenry’.

Background on CDF

The CDF was introduced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Tendai Biti in late 2009. Each of the 210 legislators in the House of Assembly was allocated US$50,000 in the 2010 National Budget for implementation of community projects like borehole drilling, schools and clinics refurbishment, construction of market stalls, purchase of school furniture and books among other community projects. In essence, complementing what local authorities are doing in the communities. This Fund is administered by the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, led by Honourable Advocate Eric Matinenga. The Fund was supposed to be administered in collaboration with ward councillors from their respective constituencies. The CDF are funding arrangements that channel money from central government directly to electoral constituencies for local infrastructure projects. The objective is to ensure speedy project implementation given the bureaucratic nature of local authorities. This facilitates the effective participation of the local population in the setting of community priority projects to undertake. CDF is meant to empower the legislature by allowing them to allocate and spend money independently of the executive and allow MPs to respond directly to concrete demands from their constituents, something that they may not be powerful enough to make the executive do. Late May 2013, the Secretary in the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza reported that it had identified 20 extreme cases of House of Assembly Members who allegedly abused their US$50 000 which they received under CDF in 2010. Officials in the ministry said they were now finalising their findings and would forward them to the police.

In light of this, the HRT has undertaken to critically examine how the 26 MPs in Harare utilised their CDF. In this report, the focus is on the Harare East CDF, under Honourable Tendai Biti, who is also the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the Government of Zimbabwe.

Method of Investigation

The HRT’s community teams are observing the projects undertaken, interviewing residents, elected ward councillors, and representatives of the MPs or even the MPs where possible. To ensure that our reports are factual and present the true picture, the HRT seeks to see the receipts showing expenditure, bank statements showing the current balance, and also verifying with experts on the cost of projects and compare with provided documentation. This is done despite the fact that the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs has done an audit of the funds where they uncovered several irregularities in the funds’ utilisation. One thing to note is that while some of the MPs apparently abused the CDF, others were transparent, accountable and involved their constituents in coming up with project ideas and setting priorities.

HRT Observations and Comments for Harare East

From the interaction with the residents of Harare East covering Wards 46, 9 and 8 under City of Harare councillors Francisco Zhuwao, Stewart Mutizwa and Peter Mudavanhu, respectively, it came out clear that most of the residents were not aware of the projects that were initiated using their CDF. Residents lack information of what was done, but those who knew were specific that they were not involved in the selection of the implemented projects, which was done by the MP and the councillors. The ignorance by residents may be attributed to lack of consultation by their local councillor, the partisan nature of the projects undertaken where only those in the party structures were consulted by their local Councillors; a situation that has caused challenges on the choice of priority of projects to be undertaken and the location of the few projects. From the investigations undertaken, the HRT found out that in ward 46, the money was used to erect a security wall at Old Tafara Community Centre at a cost of US$ 12 600, in ward 9 a market stall was constructed in Msasa near the Amby Post Office at a cost of $10 930.75 and in ward 8 a security wall was erected at Highlands Clinic at a cost of US$10 555, 56 totaling US$34 086.31. All projects were approved in November 2011 and project implementation started soon after. The roof of the market stall has 22 zinc sheets on each side, nine feet in size, and costing US$9 at Mbare’s Magaba Home Industries. The market stall is 15 metres in length and 4 metres in width. According to well-placed residents who witnessed all the market construction, the builders initially used cement bricks but council reportedly ordered them to demolish it due to poor quality, and when rains came, part of the bricks used were washed away, requiring them to restart, an additional expenditure to an unwanted project. They had to change the bricks to meet council’s standards.

The residents’ concerns are that they have not been consulted on their priority areas for instance in Ward 9 they preferred that their fund could have been directed to a water project, given water problems in the area where most people fetch water from private boreholes, which could have benefited more people. Instead, a market stall was constructed, and remains largely unused, providing shelter to the homeless, apparently funds wasted. This market stall is located adjacent to Amby Post Office behind Takrose Garage where just opposite the bus terminus that ZUPCO used in the past. Residents of Greendale at Athlone Shopping Centre hoped that available development funds would be used to construct a public toilet in the interest of public health. Most patrons at the bottle stores and shops there use walls as toilets, contaminating the environment in the process. But Councillor Mutizwa argued that toilets would invite more people to the shops to drink their beer at the shops, against council’s by-laws. Mandara residents were also looking forward to the construction of a public toilet and a borehole to be constructed at their shopping centre, but these were not prioritised.

Positive Impact of CDF in Harare East

In Ward 46, residents are happy and feel secure that they now have a protected community centre where they can go about their business, away from the mourning people in the nearby cemetery. In the past, mourners would even come and sit around the community centre while at the same time, weddings or other social functions would be taking place, creating a genuine inconvenience to community stakeholders. In ward 8, the Highlands Clinic now has a wall, and this creates a sense of privacy to patients seeking medical attention. Councillor Mutizwa said in his ward 9, the impact was very positive as they built a market stall. However, the market stall is yet to be used by the intended beneficiaries- the residents. When asked by the HRT why the market remained unused yet funds had been spent ahead of other community projects, Councillor Mutizwa said: “There are no takers so far. The problem is on our part, we did not advertise it.” The HRT argues that for any successful project implementation at community level, it is the community, including the elected representatives, who must sit down and prioritise preferred projects, before they undertake any initiative. Apparently, the residents find no benefit in the market stall. It was imposed on them.

Bank Balance

The Personal Assistant to the Honourable Minister for Harare East, Mrs Patience Nyangara, using the Asset Voucher as a source document at the New Government Complex, on Thursday 27 June 2013 informed the HRT that a total of US$ 34 086.31 of the US$50 000 was disbursed for the implementation of the three projects mentioned here, which must leave the balance at US$15 913. 69. However, this does not tally with the amount left in the bank with the provided bank statement balance as at 31 May 2013 of US$22 122.30. This gives us a surplus of US$6208.61, implying that when this money was deposited into the Harare East Constituency account Number 60101012906401 with TN Bank, it remained unused and accumulated some interest. The account is charged US$15 in bank charges every month. The opening balance as at 6 January 2012 was US$34 587.47 meaning that US$15 412.53 had been used in 2011, and the closing balance as at 31 December 2012 was US$22 199.30. This would mean that US$12 388.17 had been used in 2012. This anomaly indicates that there has not been proper monitoring of the use of the CDF, requiring a re-look at how it is administered across the constituencies.

Signatories to Constituency Account

According to councillors from Harare East, the MP is the principal signatory to the account, and the other signatories are Senator Obert Chaurura Gutu and three local councillors Peter Mudavanhu (Ward 8), Francisco Zhuwao (Ward 46) and Stewart Mutizwa (Ward 9). Councillor Mutizwa said for any transaction to be processed, it must be signed to by all the signatories, before the papers concerning the chosen project are conveyed to the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Advocate Eric Matinenga, who then processes the release of funds for a project, to registered service providers with bank accounts.

Parliament dissolving

The 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe dissolved on midnight 29 June 2013, meaning the current elected representatives would cease to be the authorities responsible for the projects, unless they get re-elected in the forthcoming Harmonised Elections. In the meantime, the remaining funds will be locked away from the communities, without value addition due to monthly bank charges. Even when they have ceased to be policymakers, there remains a high possibility of the account signatories accessing the funds, as there are no known controls. The question to ask is: what then becomes of the unused funds? Do the signatories have access to the bank account, on behalf of Harare East Constituency?

The HRT’s concern is the failure by the local MP and his councillors to agree on projects to fully expend the availed funds since CDF was introduced. It is a known fact that money not invested loses its original value if kept locked in a bank account, instead of benefiting the community. It is our considered view that this failure by policy makers in Harare East to fully utilise availed funds leaves communities poorer, as they could have benefited more if the money had been used earlier, given the time value of money. If the community had been consulted, this market stall would not have been constructed, because, apparently, the residents find no real value in its existence.

Way Forward and recommendations

a. Project selection and planning - Appropriate projects must be chosen through a stakeholder’s consultative approach. This can only bring about positive community development, given the high sense of involvement and ownership among the stakeholders. This can meet the expressed needs of the poor and marginalised communities, and not political elitists, using the money for partisan purposes.

b. The money left in the bank can be used to service town management boreholes so that water is availed to residents of Ward 8 who are now using contaminated water from rivers for laundry and some household chores. The balance can be directed to drilling of two boreholes in Ward 9 and 46 respectively.

c. The Constituency Development Fund should be released and allocated to the local authorities who are closer to the people than the MPs whose key mandate is law making and policy formulation. A mechanism needs to be put in place to ensure that the funds meant for community development under the CDF should only be released after satisfying certain conditions that include evidence in minutes of meetings of key stakeholders and the involvement of citizens to select the projects to undertake, including the sourcing of genuine quotations given widespread reports of inflated figures for services. There have been cases of rampant abuse of the funds using the party route instead of the stakeholder route to achieving community development.

d. Funds from CDF should be increased to levels that can address real tangible development initiatives. Currently the fund has experienced setbacks where upon some of the MPs have misused the money through partisan initiatives that only benefit their party loyalists, excluding other citizens, who might be in desperate need of community projects that benefit all. There were also concerns that the remaining funds could be diverted to other purposes, including campaign initiatives, disguised as constituency development initiatives. All MPs should cooperate with their stakeholders and give a breakdown of their CDF expenses to avoid raising suspicions on how the funds were used.

Visit the Harare Residents' Trust fact sheet

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