Bwana Mkubwa Member of Parliament Dr. Jonas Chanda says recent media reports in which Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Ronald Chitotela is quoted as saying some opposition Members of Parliament are withholding community development projects funded under the Constituency Development Fund with the aim of making the governing Patriotic Front party unpopular ahead of the 2021 general elections make sad reading.
Dr. Chanda has expressed disappointment at some of those opposition lawmakers who choose politicking above development and are willing to sacrifice development meant to benefit the people they claim to represent in their constituencies at the altar of political expediency.
Dr. Chanda says as all MPs know well, CDF is the main driver of development in many constituencies and is a tool to end poverty as evidenced by the many CDF-funded community projects in like construction of school infrastructure, teachers’ houses, health centres, water boreholes, simple irrigation systems, police posts, purchase of equipment like graders for roads and dredgers for boreholes, empowerment projects for women and youths, repairing of blown-up roofs in classrooms and health centres, and many others.
“In fact, the CDF is one of the very few issues at Parliament which unites all MPs together across party lines because every responsible MP knows that their first duty is to represent the people who elected them to Parliament. And generally, people are more interested in development than in mere politicking”, he said.
Dr. Chanda said It is therefore inconceivable how some opposition MPs would choose to sabotage development for their people by deliberately withholding CDF projects in their constituencies.
“Moreover, as lawmakers those opposition MPs should realise that CDF is enshrined in the Republican Constitution under Article 162 (1) which states “there is established the Constituency Development Fund” while sub article (2) states that “appropriation of monies to the Constituency Development Fund and the management, disbursement, utilization and accountability of the Constituency Development Fund shall be prescribed”, he added.
Dr. Chanda said the PF as a pro-poor government has prioritised development as witnessed by Ministry of Finance releasing the full CDF amounts in 2017 and 2018, K1.4 million and K1.6 million, respectively, to ALL 156 constituencies across the country without discrimination as to whether the constituency is represented by a PF, UPND, MMD, FDD or independent MP.
He said Government has been above board in taking development equally to all regions of Zambia including perceived opposition strongholds.
He has since commended Government through the Ministry of Local Government for listening to the submissions all MPs, irrespective of party affiliation, on how to make disbursement of CDF more efficient by eliminating the bureaucracy and red tape that has been delaying CDF funded projects at the Councils.
In December 2018, the CDF Bill was unanimously passed by ALL MPs in Parliament and has since been signed into Law by His Excellency President Edgar Lungu as the new CDF Act (2018).