The MPs now face possible prosecution for mishandling funds which they should have used to finance developmental projects in their constituencies.
We saw this happening from last year when the monies were splurged to the lawmakers. At the time, Matinenga told the nation that many of our MPs do not possess basic knowledge in accounting.
“What we have noticed — except for one or two constituencies — is that there is no capacity to do proper books of accounts by most MPs, but (it is) not really misuse of the funds,” Matinenga said at the time. But the minister is being made to swallow his words. The MPs’ functional illiteracy in handling funds has degenerated into plunder.
Finance minister Tendai Biti in 2010 allocated each constituency US$50 000 to help finance developmental projects. The announcement of the vote was greeted with great applause by MPs but their enthusiasm has not been matched by delivery.
The MPS have failed to demonstrate how the money was used. They need to produce receipts and vouchers to show how funds were employed. Pointing to a repaired dip tank, boreholes or bicycles for headmen is not good enough!
The failure to keep proper records of accounts is a huge indictment on the MPs we have. We want to point out at this juncture that one of the key functions of parliament is to keep a tight leash on the executive. This fundamental function is only possible when we have MPs of the right calibre: men and women of integrity who possess the right intellectual aptitude to probe activities of the executive.
MPs can only play this watchdog role if they can do basic things right, like keeping records, documenting development in their constituencies and keeping track of social needs in the community. Most MPs have generally failed in this regard to the extent that they know very little about the people they represent.
Successive reports by the Comptroller and Auditor-General have exposed rampant misuse of state funds. The reports have not been complemented by robust debate from MPs. Can they do this when they cannot accounts for US$50 000?
There must be a deliberate plan to raise the bar when choosing MPs. The Constituency Development Fund has exposed them. This country deserves better leaders and not toadying slogan-pushers.
Quote of the week
“Press conferences are for the media and not stakeholders like war veterans. If they want to give their views, they would do so at a briefing for stakeholders and they absolutely had no business at a press conference,” Copac co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora on threats by war veterans to disrupt the constitution-making process.