23 MPs in constituency fund scandal

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Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga yesterday submitted to two principals in the inclusive government a list of 23 MPs from both Zanu PF and MDC parties, accused of abusing allocations from the Constitutional Development Fund (CDF), disbursed to them last year for developing their constituencies.

Matinenga yesterday told NewsDay, although the ministry would not name the MPs, the report had been handed over to President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

We are not yet ready to release the list of names to the public, but the matter is now in the hands of the President and the Prime Minister, said Matinenga.

All 210 MPs in the House of Assembly received $50 000 from Treasurys $8 million allocated for the project, but many of them reportedly abused the funds, prompting Matinengas ministry to institute an audit.

The result of the audit has since been presented to President Mugabe and Tsvangirai on the way forward.

It is understood there are seven MPs from Harare Province, three from Masvingo, four from Mashonaland West, three from Midlands and one each from Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East, who could have abused their CDF allocations.

Legislators from the three Matabeland provinces have all accounted for their CDF allotments and submitted their returns. The alleged fraud emerged after an audit by a ministry-appointed team which sifted through returns submitted last year.

Out of the 23 legislators fingered, three are Cabinet ministers, according to the ministry.

The accused MPs reportedly used the funds to issue personal loans while others spent the money on undisclosed goodies.

Last year, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabhiza said the ministry received returns for 173 out of 210 constituencies at the end of October, saying many lawmakers were involved in conduct bordering on fraud, improper use and dishonesty.

Our calls for them to submit returns have fallen on deaf ears. Hence Treasury and Auditor-General advised us to take action against them, Mabhiza said.