Name, punish CDF fraudsters

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In yesterdays issue we reported that an audit by the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs unearthed that 23 MPs could be guilty of abusing the Constitutional Development Fund (CDF) disbursed to them last year for developing their constituencies.

While we applaud the Eric Matinenga-led ministry for carrying out the audit to expose the fraudsters, what we find disturbing is the reluctance by the minister to disclose the names of the culprits to the public.

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.

The problem here is that the funds abused were taxpayers money and the constituents who are the victims of the fraud have every right to know what happened to the money that was supposed to develop their areas. Why hide the names of those who stole from the people?

This is fraud and it must be dealt with at law. By handing the information to the principals in the inclusive government, the minister is turning a purely criminal case into a political one.

This is not a matter for the politicians; it is a matter that must be handled by the Serious Fraud Squad. Why the President and Prime Minister should be involved in a case where individuals defrauded the State of $50 000 each boggles the mind. We smell an attempt at a political cover-up.

These people should not only be arrested, they should be named and shamed.

The public, from which the vital information about the fraudsters identities is being hidden, constitute the voters who elected the very same people into office in the hope that they had enough integrity to serve them loyally.

These are the very same people who would want to be re-elected into office come the next election and this makes it more important for the people to know what kind of representatives they are so if they decide to re-elect thieves into office they should do it knowingly.

To let these people off the hook will not only set a bad precedent, but it is unfair to those MPs who used the money properly, submitting returns as required.

What is of concern is the way these MPs used the money dishing out personal loans, most likely to friends and relatives, and spending the money on goodies.

Such people, if found guilty, do not belong in Parliament; jail is their rightful place!

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabhiza last year described these crooks conduct as bordering on fraud, improper use and dishonesty and we have no doubt that no one in their proper frame of mind would want such people as their representatives in Parliament.

They make our nation a laughing stock, for who would respect us if we protect thieves masquerading as MPs and Cabinet ministers from being locked away?

These CDF fraudsters must be dealt with firmly to send the correct signals to the nation.