Innovative MPs have started development projects in their constituencies following disbursement of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocated to them by Finance minister Tendai Biti through the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.
Although the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga, told Parliament that several MPs had not applied for the funds, he said a significant number of MPs had taken up this opportunity.
These MPS had since professed having started very helpful projects to benefit their people.
Presenting the 2010 Budget statement, Biti promised every MP an allocation of $50 000 to kick-start projects that would enhance their constituencies.
Although some MPs complained that they had not yet received the whole batch of $50 000 as promised, those who got the first batch of $19 000 told NewsDay that the monies had certainly gone a long way in bringing positive change to their communities.
Chitungwiza South MP, Misheck Shoko (MDC-T), said he had so far spent $38 000 from the CDF and six boreholes had already been sunk in his constituency to help alleviate the constituency’s perennial water problem.
He said they still had $12 000 remaining and it would be used to sink even more boreholes because his constituency had been the first to be hit by the cholera pandemic in 2008.
“So far I have sunk six boreholes using funds allocated to us by the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs from the CDF,” said Shoko.
“I have four wards in my constituency and my intention is that each ward should get at least two boreholes to help alleviate the water shortages.”
He said as an MP he gave his constituents a chance to decide what project they wanted for their area and the people in Chitungwiza South decided they seriously needed to embark on a project that would help improve their water supplies.
“You will recall that in 2008 the cholera outbreak started in my constituency. Now we want to have access to clean water so that in the event that there might be another cholera outbreak, the impact would be much lighter,” said Shoko.
“We might also consider equipping our schools, roads and clinics, but as of now our major concern is access to clean water. Of the six boreholes, two are not really performing well and we still have to try and make them perform better. In Ward 24, we have the best boreholes,” said Shoko.
The MDC-M lawmaker for Umzingwane constituency, who is also the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nomalanga Mzilikazi Khumalo, said there were 20 wards in her constituency and each ward had different proposals for projects they wanted to implement using the CDF disbursement.
“Since we were allocated $50 000 from the CDF, I sat down with councillors from the 20 wards and discussed with them how we could improve the standard of living in those wards. We divided the money into different wards but since $2 500 was too little, we then decided to concentrate on those wards that had pressing needs,” said Khumalo.
“We also took into consideration the emancipation of women and decided that we would also concentrate on projects that promoted women activities,” she said.
She said each councillor who participated spoke to their people, who then made suggestions for the projects they wanted in their wards.
“We have since purchased and supplied building materials to complete the building of some schools. A female councillor suggested that she wanted the improvement of the maternity wing at a clinic in her constituency, while another female councillor suggested a poultry project for widows and orphans in her ward,” said Khumalo.
Khumalo said two wards wanted boreholes; one ward suggested furniture for two schools and that all those materials had already been supplied to wards.
“What we want is a situation whereby all the people from Umzingwane benefited from the CDF because we have not yet exhausted the funds allocated to us,” said Khumalo.
She said there were other projects like the installation of a refrigeration facility that can accommodate up to 30 bodies at Esigodini District Council Clinic mortuary.
Khumalo said she also sourced funds from donors to sink boreholes at a school because teachers were leaving it due to the poor conditions.
Gibson Munjeyi, the Zanu PF lawmaker for Hwedza North, said he bought grinding mills which operated on diesel for nine wards in his constituency.
He said his rural constituency experienced perennial electricity cuts thus these diesel grinding mills would help ease the food problems as people would be able to get their maize ground into mealie-meal even if there was no electricity supply from Zesa.
“We purchased diesel grinding mills for nine wards and we have already bought 154 cement bags and 5 000 bricks to start erecting those grinding mills. So far we have completed seven of them and only two are outstanding,” said Munjeyi.
He said the project was so viable that it would also manage to generate income for the constituency.
“The grinding mills can be a source of income because they can generate about $7 000 per month and that money can be used to work on other projects, rather than us waiting for the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs to make the next disbursement from the CDF,” said Munjeyi.
Bikita West MP Heya Shoko said he had already received $38 000 from the CDF and had initiated many projects using the first batch of $19 000.
“From the first dispatch of $19 000 we managed to buy roofing materials for Bikita Masunda Satellite Secondary School and Mashavhi Secondary School.
“These two schools had two classrooms only and yet they enrolled students from Form One to Form Four, resulting in extensive hot seating at the schools,” said Shoko.
He said Bikita Masunda Satellite Secondary School had no roof and thus had to buy roofing materials so that schoolchildren can be protected from the rains.
“We bought cement bags for Mukanganwi Secondary School and Musakwa Secondary School. We also bought office stationery and computers for our constituency offices,” he said.
He said they decided education was very important because most of the schools in the area had spent three to five years without roofs.
All the MPs who benefited from the CDF interviewed by NewsDay said the facility was very helpful as it increased their visibility in their constituencies.
They said there was a high level of transparency in the way the funds were used because after completion of the projects there was going to be auditing by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office, as well as the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.
“No MP would want to contest another election without having made any improvements to their constituencies because those are projects that people can look at and say their MP was a hard worker,” said Shoko.
Khumalo said if an MP did nothing for their people, come next elections, they would find it difficult to approach those same people asking them to vote for them.