Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Constituency Development Fund had a major boost when allocated $2,4 billion in the 2022 National Budget, which translates to $11,4 million per constituency, a development that has excited legislators who had just $2 million each last year for extra development work within the 210 constituencies.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated $2,4 billion for the fund and the money is expected to transform communities as well as complement the Government’s larger and more formal devolution agenda in line with NDS1.
Commenting on the allocation, chairperson for the portfolio committee on Budget and Finance, Dr Matthew Nyashanu, commended Prof Ncube for the huge allocation, but implored him to disburse the money speedily.
“The committee calls upon the Minister to expedite the release of the funds before they are eroded by inflation. The committee also noted that constituency information centres were allocated $300 million.
“This may be inadequate given the target to establish 210 constituency information centres in 2023 in line with the Parliamentary Institutional Strategic Plan and the Blue Book.
“The 2022 Budget must lay the foundation for the establishment of the centres through procurement of the land, construction of the offices as well as equipping some of the centres,” said Dr Nyashanu.
Commenting on the allocation for the Constituency Development Fund in the National Assembly recently, Vungu MP Cde Omega Sibanda also brought up the need for rapid disbursement. Some disbursements were delayed this year and that meant it would be difficult completing identified projects.
“Our wish is that in January and February, constituency development funds should be released and given to Honourable Members so that they are able to work especially those in the rural areas.
“The Minister promised to resuscitate constituency offices and there will be researchers for the constituency. Therefore, my plea to the Minister is that constituency offices should be built on time so that we are able to work well.
“Right now, some of us are in rural areas; it is not even clearly indicated where MPs can meet the people and we end up meeting them behind the shops, which is what we cannot continue to do because it denigrates our status as equal to the Executive or the Judiciary,” he said.
“We should work in a way that people feel proud in what we do. For instance, seeing that here is an MP coming and he has a proper meeting place and they can listen to him.”
Hwange Central legislator Daniel Molokele Tsiye said delays in disbursement of the funds meant the money would fail to make the intended impact.
“Even that small amount is not coming on time. So this year we are allocated $2 million each, but it came in the second half of the year and some have not received their allocation as of now. So, most of that allocation has already been affected by inflation,” he said.
“For 2022, the Minister needs to make sure that it does not happen. MPs are operating not offices, three years after the Minister promised that there will be allocation of funds to ensure that at least they have constituency level offices, support staff, and allowances to do their work in constituencies; this has not yet happened.
“This is crippling the capacity of Parliament to work as the third arm of the State.”