via Latest on CDF probe | The Herald December 3, 2013 by Farirai Machivenyika
Government will confiscate properties bought by at least 20 legislators using the Constitution Development Fund for their personal use as it moves in to clampdown on abusers of the fund. This was revealed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, when she appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs yesterday.
“I recently prepared a list of constituencies that have issues and fully reported to my current minister (Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa) about the extent of the abuse. I have just prepared the paperwork and it’s in 20 constituencies where I would want the honourable minister to analyse before he takes the list to Cabinet and I also will be undertaking a lot of measures to recover some of the assets that were procured using CDF funds from different constituencies where in my view as accounting officer those assets are supposed to be recovered and taken to the ministry.
“I can give examples although I am not in a position to furnish the exact details. We have honourable members who purchased motor vehicles using CDF funds and we are in the process of recovering those motor vehicles. Some purchased motor bikes, we are also in the process of recovering those motor bikes,” Mrs Mabhiza said.
She added that others bought grinding mills and office furniture that were not properly accounted for and did not benefit the communities.
During the last session of parliament legislators received US$50 000 to develop their constituencies but the money was allegedly abused by a number of the legislators, some of whom failed to produce audited accounts.
“This did not benefit the community and in our view are being used by the individual former MPs and some who are still current and those are the steps we are carrying out and in fact my audit teams are awaiting funding to go out there and recover the trucks, the buses and the grinding mills,” she said.
A number of legislators in the previous parliament were arrested on allegations of abusing the CDF but their prosecution was stopped after the then Attorney General Mr Johannes Tomana, raised concern that there was no proper legal framework to successfully prosecute them.
However, Mrs Mabhiza said they were in the process of drafting a CDF Bill and were treating it as a matter of urgency since it was on the legislative agenda set out by President Mugabe during the official opening of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament.
Meanwhile, giving evidence before the same committee, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Deputy Commissioner for Administration Aggrey Huggins Machingauta, said they were facing challenges in feeding the inmates.
“It’s true we are facing challenges feeding our prison population despite the recommended three meals a day. We are struggling to give them one meal due to inadequate funding and this is obviously affecting the health of the prison population,” he said.
Dep Comm Machingauta said at least 100 inmates died in the prisons partly due to poor diet and other factors.
The country has 14 prisons and 21 satellite prisons countrywide with a holding capacity of 17 000 although there are currently 18 460 inmates.
The ZPCS requires about US$1,2 million for its monthly operational requirements but receives US$300 000.
He also said they were failing to till the 27 farms they have countrywide due to shortage of capital as a result of inadequate funding from Treasury.