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Parliament spot-on on CDF audit

Reports that Parliament has embarked on an exercise to audit the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) ranks as one of the most progressive actions by the August house in years.

Parliament of Zimbabwe
Parliament of Zimbabwe

Our sister paper, the Daily News, on Friday carried a story where the acting Speaker of the National Assembly Reuben Marumahoko said that no new applications for fresh CDF disbursements would be considered before the completion of the audit of funds released for the current Parliament, an exercise which is expected to be completed around July.

If anything, this signals seriousness towards achieving  accountability — for long one of the biggest handicaps inherent in State institutions.

The fund was first introduced by former Finance minister Tendai Biti in 2010 during the tenure of the stability-inducing inclusive government when former president Robert Mugabe entered into a unity government with his long-time foe, the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai between 2009 and 2013.

A year after CDF was unveiled, it collapsed due to budgetary constraints and the absence of a legal framework to govern it.

A number of Members of Parliament had been accused of abusing the fund, which was meant for the express development of the constituencies they represented in Parliament.

Ironically, Zimbabweans are reeling under the weight of several challenges among them cash shortages, poor road network and other communication infrastructure, shortages of drugs in health facilities and a struggling education sector, areas which need urgent injection of funds to breathe life into them.

Should the public then let legislators go scot-free with these forms of abuse of funds meant for the betterment of the majority of the country’s citizens?

It is even more interesting now because there is legislation in place to deal with those who may be found on the wrong side of the law. At some point last year, even non-constituency MPs applied to get access to the fund, quite a curious development by any measure.

What would a legislator without a constituency want to use the fund for except for self-enrichment?

This should never be allowed to happen because these funds are meant for the benefit of the generality of the population.

Parliament must continue to play an oversight role on the operations of government ministries but if the legislators themselves are then accused of dipping their fingers in public funds, who then will play that oversight role. Daily News