PERMANENT secretary in the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabhiza yesterday said the ministry was unlikely to disburse this year’s Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocations until after the next elections.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Mabhiza told NewsDay the ministry was still waiting for policy guidelines on how to handle the issue considering elections were likely to be held this year.
“So far we still await policy direction on whether to disburse CDF before or after elections because the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga, said it would be better to disburse the funds after elections,” said Mabhiza.
“Elections are just by the corner and we are afraid some MPs might bounce back, while others do not and we are trying to avoid problems,” she said.
In his 2013 National Budget presentation last November, Finance minister Tendai Biti set aside $5 million instead of the pledged $12,5 million to be shared among the 210 parliamentary constituencies.
This means each constituency will be entitled to $23 000 instead of the $50 000 they got last year.
The fund caused a storm last year after some MPs failed to account for their allocations, forcing the ministry to conduct an audit.
Three MPs were arrested and charged with misappropriation of the funds, but their prosecution was stopped following the intervention of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana’s office.
Mabhiza said the ministry had so far audited 165 constituencies with the remainder set to be completed soon.
“We hope to finish the audits of all constituencies by mid-March. The problem we are experiencing is that we have not been getting sufficient funding from Treasury. We need about $120 000 to complete the audits,” she said.
Although she declined to release the names of the constituencies that were found wanting, she said Matinenga would soon name the CDF abusers in Parliament.
Last year, the audit revealed 23 MPs could be guilty of abusing CDF allocations.
Mabhiza said once the audit was concluded, the findings would be handed over to the Anti-Corruption Commission and police for prosecution.