Byo MPs demand timely release of CDF to fix water crisis 

Source: Byo MPs demand timely release of CDF to fix water crisis – #Asakhe – CITE

Members of Parliament from Bulawayo have implored the government to release Constituency Development Funds (CDF) on time and in foreign currency to address water supply challenges.

The nation is currently bearing the effects of drought due to El Niño, and Bulawayo faces a double burden because of the province’s perennial water shortage.

The local authority recently announced that it needs at least US$40 million to address its water challenges.

CDF funds are released yearly to MPs for various development projects in their constituencies.

The allocation is currently set at US$50,000, but the funds are disbursed in local currency at the official exchange rate in effect on the date of the budget announcement.

According to the Hansard, the legislatures noted that money allocated for CDF can be used to address water challenges in respective constituencies.

The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Vangelis Haritatos, confirmed the government is actively working to increase water supply discharge from Mtshabezi, Mzingwane and Nyamandlovu to alleviate water shortages in Bulawayo.

In an interview with CITE, MP for Pumula constituency, Sichelesile Mahlangu, agreed that using CDF for water projects was a good idea, but lamented delayed disbursements.

“We can do this if the funds are released on time. Ideally, we should receive them within the first quarter of the year to allow ample time for project implementation. These funds must be used for projects chosen in consultation with residents,” Mahlangu said.

Mahlangu proposed installing water kiosks in specific wards within her constituency. “Unfortunately, drilling boreholes is not possible in some areas due to underlying rock formations,” she explained.

She further criticized the practice of disbursing the funds in local currency despite being pegged in USD. The delay causes significant devaluation.

“Last time we received it, it was equivalent to US$14,000. Imagine that most service providers charge in USD!” she said.

“They charge us nearly double because of the exchange rate, often using the black market rate. The government should at least consider giving us these funds in USD. Even a reduced amount of US$25,000 or US$30,000 would make a difference if received on time and in foreign currency.”

MP for Emakhandeni-Luveve Constituency, Descent Bajila, echoed these concerns, highlighting that they still haven’t received funds for 2023.

“As MPs, we planned to use CDF to address the water crisis. However, the 2023 funds haven’t been disbursed yet. It is now April 2024, and there’s no sign of the CDF. Given that the funds are disbursed in local currency, which loses value due to inflation, the money will likely not be very helpful,” he said.

Bajila questioned the government’s commitment to resolving Bulawayo’s water crisis.

“The commitment of the government in resolving water issues, especially in Bulawayo is at stake. There are no signs of commitment in terms of doing practical stuff, outside the issuance of statements and making comments. The money allocation that was given to water resources management for the national budget is one sign that the government is not serious about water issues,” Bajila said.

“The national government should proceed to quickly disburse money for the Nyamandlovu and Mtshabezi projects so that we can have water coming to Bulawayo quicker. The government should also move quickly to introduce a fast system to disburse CDF. Keeping the money in government coffers for a long time punishes the people of Zimbabwe.”