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Constituency Fund Nonsensical — AAG

INDIGENISATION lobby group, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG), has blasted plans by Finance minister Tendai Biti to set up a Constituency Development Fund (CDF) as “nonsensical”.

Presenting oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on industry and commerce on Monday, AAG president Supa Mandiwanzira said the proposed fund would be a medium for political expedience.
Biti proposed to allocate US$8 million as initial capital for the fund meant to benefit the country’s 210 constituencies.
South Africa, Botswana and Namibia are among countries in the Southern African region which run similar funds.
“I’m totally opposed to this Constituency Development Fund,” Mandiwanzira said. “It is nonsensical. The reality is that those funds are going to be vote-buying funds.”
The funds, according to Biti, would be administered by the Ministry of Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs on the basis of an annual development plan submitted by the constituencies.
“What we need to do is to promote enterprises. We will not grow the cake by giving MPs funds to superintend over. We are creating another level of bureaucracy,” Mandiwanzira said. “Given the amount of appetite (for cash) out there, MPs are not fallible, they are also human beings. Are we not creating an opportunity for MPs?”
The fund, Mandiwanzira added, would create a “mini-authority” that would result in duplication of roles between local authorities and the new fund.
Under the fund, according to Biti, lawmakers are expected to play their “leadership role” in the planning and execution of those local and “community projects with immediate impact on the livelihood of the communities”.
Presenting the 2010 National Budget on Wednesday last week, Biti however said: “The Constituency Development Fund is not intended to replace or compete with local authority structures and ministries decentralised structure. Furthermore the CDF shall not be a parallel structure to any of the established structures but a mere vehicle in respect of which an elected MP has an opportunity to make and deliver real change to the local community.”
The CDF, according to Biti, will be chaired by the respective MP with elected councillors being members of the committee. The local senator will be an ex-official member of the committee.
He said “strict accountability measures” would be taken to prevent the abuse of the money.
Meanwhile, the House of Assembly on Wednesday passed with no amendments the US$2,25 billion 2010 National Budget. MPs however were concerned that Biti did not consult them as representatives of the people before coming up with the Budget.


Bernard Mpofu

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