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‘Constituency funds idle’

CONSTITUENCY Development Funds (CDF), critical to grassroots community development, are lying idle because MPs are not coming forward to claim the money, a cabinet minister has said.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga said in the capital yesterday that MPs were reluctant to apply for funds which would benefit their constituencies.
He revealed that only two MPs, Heya Shoko of Bikita West and Shuwa Mudiwa of Mutare West, had applied for the money despite Finance minister Tendai Biti releasing US$4 million of the US$8 million promised under the fund.
The money will be returned to treasury if MPs continue snubbing the CDF, warned Matinenga, whose ministry administers the fund.
“Only two applications have been received so far; Bikita West and Mutare West,” Matinenga said. “An amount of $4 million is available for disbursement from this fund. MPS are once again reminded to make applications to access this money.”
Biti in December last year allocated US$8 million for constituency development in his 2010 budget, but the money can only be released if MPs make an official request. Each House of Assembly member is entitled to US$50 000 from the fund.
There are 210 House of Assembly seats, although over 10 of them are vacant because of deaths, expulsions and appointments.
Matinenga said a Senator could apply for the money where the House of Assembly seat was vacant.
“The money won’t go directly into an MP’s personal account. There is a way to make sure there is accountability,” said Matinenga. “MPs must apply because the money is available.”
MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese defended MPs who were yet to apply for money under the CDF saying the funds were availed when most legislators were busy with the constitution-making outreach programme.
MPs, he said, were keen on the CDF because they were committed to upgrading the lives of the electorate.

 

Brian Chitemba

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