The Sunday Mail
Members of Parliament will soon lose direct control of the Constituency Development Fund under new rules that curtail fraud and misuse of the facility.
Special constituency committees will instead manage the money while MPs major on project implementation.
Parliament is tying up the regulations and criteria to select members of the envisaged committees.
So far, the CDF has US$2.5 million which will be shared among the 210 National Assembly constituencies in June 2017.
Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda told The Sunday Mail: “Parliament has received a provision of around US$2.5 million for the Constituency Development Fund programme and will soon begin disbursing around US$12 500 to individual constituencies.
“We have also been assured that Treasury is trying to source additional resources in order to meet the full complement of US$50 000 per constituency.
“What we are now doing is work on arrangements of how the money can be accessed and also, more importantly, how it will be accounted for eventually.”
Mr Chokuda continued: “We are doing this so that we do not have the same challenge we had with previous disbursements where some of the money was allegedly misused.
“We are currently putting in place mechanisms that ensure accountability; how the money will be used. Disbursements are set to begin within the next month because we are already at an advanced stage of setting up the requisite mechanisms to disburse and protect the Fund from abuse.
“Provisionally, we have agreed on setting up constituency committees that will be responsible for the money as well as identifying the projects that need attention. While MPs will remain with a huge role, they have to work hand-in-hand with the committees.
“We are yet to decide on who exactly will constitute these committees, but that is not really a difficult issue to iron out and will be resolved soon.”
The CDF was created during the inclusive Government era (2008-2013) to help legislators develop their respective constituencies.
However, lack of foolproof mechanisms and penalties saw the Fund being abused, with culprits walking scott-free
In 2014, four MDC-T MPs and another from Zanu-PF were identified as suspects in the Fund’s alleged abuse, but prosecution could not proceed in the absence of the requisite law.
The CDF Bill has now been tabled before Parliament, prescribing up to five years’ imprisonment for errant MPs and their accomplices.
The Bill also provides for a board to govern the CDF.