MPs, Senators Set For Collision Course Over Constituency Development Fund

Tuesday, 21 February 2017  Radio VOP

HARARE - Legislators from Zimbabwe’s lower and upper houses of assembly are set for a collision coarse over the administration of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

This is after Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the Senate recently that CDF was only targeted for "geographical constituencies" only, something that stops Senators from laying their hands on the controversial government fund.

“Let me say that if we say a constituency, we are referring to the 210 constituencies were people were elected,” Chinamasa told Senators Thursday last week.

He continued: “So, the Constituency Development Fund is targeting those constituencies which are geographical, which have boundaries - that is what we are supporting. 

“The money that would have been put in the Budget will be given to those constituencies. Each constituency will be getting US$50 000 which will go towards the development of projects within that geographical area.”

Chinamasa was responding to a question by Zanu PF Rushinga Senator Damian Mumvuri who wanted to know if Treasury had any plans to involve Senators in the management of CDF.

The Finance Minister, in his 2017 budget statement, announced the reintroduction of a fund which is aimed at financing developmental projects in each of the country’s 210 parliamentary constituencies.

However, since introduction by then Finance Minister Tendai Biti during the inclusive government, the fund has failed to cater for the country’s bicameral system in which Senators have been overlooked.

In his response, Chinamasa all but gave conflicting statements by saying the funds shall be administered by MPs from the lower house who shall consult with Senators on how best to administer the funds.

Chinamasa urged MPs to well work with a group of politicians who earned their positions through a proportional representation process which did not place them in any direct contact with the electorate.

“We encourage that each and every Member of Parliament is under the Senator because he knows that he or she is covering a number of constituencies,” he said.

“Members of Parliament should know that whatever projects they are engaged in, they should call in the Senator and move together. 

“If the Senator overseas three constituencies, all those members should call the Senator so that they work together, that is what we encourage.

“Nothing will move if the Senator will take his or her own way and the Member of Parliament will be doing another thing. 

“They must not do anything without the knowledge of the other.”

It is however not just the Senators who are disgruntled over being left out of a fund which is widely seen as providing an unfair head-start for sitting MPs to re-launch their campaigns for re-election at the expense of competitors.

Lower house MPs also elected via proportional representation have also queried a process which benefits substantive legislators.

In past interactions with MPs, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said CDF was only meant for “constituency-based members of parliament”.

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