MPs evade Constituency Development Fund workshop

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Only six out of 22 Members of Parliament from Mashonaland West turned up for a two-day Constituency Development Fund (CDF) workshop which ended last Friday amid reports those who snubbed the event feared it could be used to force them to account for funds allocated to them.

Only two Zanu PF MPs, Nelson Samkange (Zvimba West) and Godfrey Beremauro (Hurungwe Central) and four MDC-T MPs attended the workshop.

The MDC-T was represented by Stewart Garadhi (Chinhoyi), Takalani Prince Matibe (Chegutu West), Tall Severino Chambati (Hurungwe West) and Cleopas Machacha (Kariba).

Mashonaland West provincial administrator Christopher Shumba, who reportedly sent out the invitations, could not say why there was apathy from the lawmakers.

Said Chinhoyi MP Garadhi: “This is a clear sign that some of the legislators have something to hide.

“It is an open secret that there are those who deliberately absented themselves to save themselves the embarrassment of being accused of misusing the $50 000 they got under CDF.”

Zanu PF’s Beremauro defended his colleagues’ absence saying they had travelled to Harare for the party’s Central Committee meeting.

Meanwhile, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabiza said 161 out of the 210 legislators had so far submitted their annual CDF returns for 2010.

She said the ministry hoped all MPs would have submitted their annual returns by the December 31 cut-off date.

Mabiza, however, said tendering of returns by MPs was not an indication that they properly accounted for the funds, but declined to give further details.

She, however, warned those that failed to account for the funds that they risked prosecution.

She said in the 2011 allocation, the CDF would be increased to $60 000 per constituency.

The CDF was established in 2010 in terms of Section 18 of the Public Finance Management Act (Chapter 22:19).

The workshop was designed to, among other objectives, capacitate MPs and councillors in procurement, recording and accounting of public funds and assets.