Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
TREASURY has disbursed more than $8 million to 166 legislators from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) since December, Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda has said.
Government introduced $50 000 per constituency under the fund to enable legislators to spearhead community development projects in their constituencies.
Adv Mudenda said 174 legislators had so far submitted their applications.
“Out of 210 constituencies, 174 have submitted and complied with the criteria for the deployment of the Constituency Development Fund. Only 36 are outstanding. I’m hoping that in the next two weeks or so, the 36 will have come on board. 166 legislators have received the fund but the balance out of the 174 will be getting their money but mid week next week,” said Adv Mudenda.
He said there has been some tremendous progress in spite of the stringent criteria to qualify.
The Speaker said the criteria is stipulated in the CDF constitution.
Asked how the money would be safeguarded against abuse, Adv Mudenda responded: “It’s tight. Our Parliamentary CDF management committee will be on the ground to inspect the application of the fund.”
On Wednesday in parliament, Adv Mudenda encouraged legislators who had received funds for their projects to submit their monthly, quarterly and annual returns to the Parliament Management Committee in terms of Article 524 of the Accounting Officers Instructions.
He said documents to be submitted include returns of expenditure, returns of bank reconciliation statements, returns of assets purchased and project job cards.
Other legislators took time to complain that the $50 000 was too little for them to achieve much in their constituencies. MDC-T legislator, Engineer Elias Mudzuri said there was no room for employing an accounting officer as the money was not enough.
“On the CDF, Mr Speaker Sir, on the accounting manual and on the process of running this account there is no room for employing an accounting officer. You will find out that the Member of Parliament becomes the accounting officer. There is no one to do the errands and there is no room even to buy fuel or telephone allowances,” he said.
“There must be that allowance where you have to allow for employment of somebody who runs the accounts. It is very difficult for non-accounting officers to be able to do it.”
He was seconded by Zanu-PF Bindura South MP Cde Remigious Matangira who said they needed to employ people to do a job card or else the job card must be done away with.
“The Constituency Development Fund, small as it is in a constituency; when we talk about a job card, what it means is, you will have to engage people who will do the job. It will cost more than the $50 000 that we are getting as a development fund. It is going to be done by the communities for them to feel that they own it. So, the job card part, I think must fall off,” he said.
The guidelines include the nature of development projects that could be funded and the involvement of administration of Parliament.