SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, revealed yesterday that a surprising 142 Members of Parliament had not applied for funds to develop their constituencies, the Daily News reports.
Mudenda said what was jarring about this was that the MPs appeared not to have seen the need to help those that they represent, by accessing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) — including buying them personal protective equipment (PPE) or sanitisers in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes as MPs are demanding that the CDF be disbursed in United States dollars or the equivalent in local currency, despite Treasury having increased the allocations from $50 000 to $175 000.
The CDF monies are given to National Assembly members to carry out development projects in their respective constituencies.
Mudenda expressed dismay that despite the fact that Parliament was now in the third quarter of its ninth session, many MPs had not applied for the CDF allocations since 2018.
“Only 68 members have applied for this year while 67 did not apply for 2019, and 20 missed the 2018 allocations.
“I am aware that the money is not much, but it would be of good use in your constituencies, especially under Covid-19 when schools and clinics need personal protective equipment.
“I urge all members who have not applied to do so as a matter of urgency,” Mudenda told MPs.
His call prompted the MP for Mbizo, Settlement Chikwinya, to request that the CDF allocations be given to MPs in US dollar equivalent, at the prevailing auction rate.
But this did not go down well with Mudenda who expected Chikwinya to first reprimand those MPs who had not collected their CDF allocations.
“I thought you would castigate those who did not apply at the material time. The 142 MPs (who did not apply for the funds) is a huge number.
“If you wanted the amount adjusted, it was up to you to raise the issue at the material time,” he said.
The fund was first introduced by former Finance minister Tendai Biti in 2010 during the tenure of the stability-inducing inclusive government.
However, the scheme later collapsed due to budgetary constraints and the absence of a legal framework to govern it.
A number of MPs were accused of abusing the funds, which were meant for the express development of their constituencies.