GOVERNMENT has ordered a freeze on all Constituency Development Fund (CDF) accounts to curb abuse of the facility by outgoing MPs after it emerged most had not exhausted their 2010 allocations.
Report by Eshmael Mlambo.
Secretary for Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabhiza told NewsDay yesterday her ministry had already ordered banks to freeze the CDF accounts until after the harmonised elections.
“The ministry is currently writing to banks to freeze all CDF accounts so that they can no longer be accessed by the outgoing MPs,” Mabhiza said.
“This will affect those MPs who did not fully utilise the funds and this is in preparation for the handover of the amounts to the next Parliament.”
Mabhiza said after dissolution of Parliament, the outgoing MPs no longer had the mandate to do any transactions using CDF funds as these were not individual accounts.
She said by next week, all banks should have frozen the CDF accounts so that no MP can illegally withdraw money from them.
Last week, the Harare Residents Trust produced a report raising fears that the funds could end up being abused following dissolution of Parliament last Saturday.
In 2010, the Finance ministry allocated $50 000 for each constituency to fund development projects. However, the programme later became the centre of controversy after several MPs were accused of abusing the facility to enrich themselves.
Four MPs from Zanu PF and MDC-T were arrested and charged over the matter, but the issue was shelved following the intervention of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.
“We have cases where CDF funds were completely lost. One MP decided to invest the money in Interfin Bank, but when it suffered liquidation the money was stuck in the bank and could not be recovered. We are still trying to recover the money,” she said.
Mabhiza said her ministry would continue auditing the outgoing MPs and bring them to court if found guilty of abusing public money.
“For those who were once arrested, but had their cases withdrawn — withdrawal before plea is not the end of the case. They will still be followed up and if the State has enough evidence against them, they will be re-summoned,” she said.