via CDF Bill ready for Cabinet | The Herald February 19, 2015
ABOUT 210 Members of the National Assembly will soon receive at least $50 000 each under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) after Government drafted laws to criminalise abuse of the fund. The laws to regulate the use of CDF were introduced after some MPs allegedly diverted the money to personal use during the Inclusive Government era, but could not be successfully prosecuted because there was no law governing the use of the fund.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary, Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, told The Herald that the CDF Bill was ready for presentation to Cabinet as early as next week.
She said Treasury allocated money towards CDF in the current National Budget, as such her ministry was ready to disburse it when availed.
She said previous experience where legislators allegedly misused funds under CDF inspired Government to criminalise such abuses.
“We have drafted memorandum on principles to the CDF Bill and we are hoping that memorandum will be on the agenda in Cabinet very soon, probably next week,” she said.
“It’s just that I won’t determine items on the agenda for Cabinet. But what I can say is its ready for Cabinet and once it’s approved the Bill will sail through. But what I want to emphasise on is that the budget has been made available for CDF. We are ready to disburse even using the existing legal framework.”
Mrs Mabhiza said provisions in the Bill were meant to tighten internal control mechanisms so that legislators do not abuse the fund.
Some of the mechanisms are that MPs would not be given cash but would be deposited directly to service providers.
“Essentially, we are trying to tighten our internal control mechanisms so that money is put into its proper and intended use.
“There is a provision to penalise misuse of CDF. It attracts a term of imprisonment or both such fine and imprisonment,” she said.
Only legislators who were directly elected by the electorate on July 31, 2013 harmonised elections would receive the fund while those who came through the proportional representation system and Senators would lose out.
An audit of the CDF use during the Inclusive Government revealed that some MPs abused the fund and some were subsequently arrested, but could not be successfully sued because there was no law governing administration of the fund.