The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) may not be the only devolved fund however it is probably the most well known. The CDF is intended to “mitigate poverty and harmonize the spread of development of throughout the country.” How CDF works, the Treasury releases the funds meant for CDF, to the CDF Board through the Ministry of Planning. The CDF Board releases funds to CDF committees for approved projects. The CDF committees disburse funds to project management committees based submitted work-plans and the project management committees then oversee the running of the projects.
On paper the running of the CDF seems like a clear and efficient process. The one thing that is left out in the description of the how the CDF works is the part about who keeps track of how the funds are spent? If reports from the Institute of Social Accountability (TISA) and a report titled, ‘The Oversight Role of Parliament’ by World Vision and the Centre for Peace and Democracy, are to be believed, hardly anyone is auditing the CDF. Even worse members of parliament (who are patrons of their constituency’s CDF and whose role it is to oversee the management of the CDF) are alleged to be using their influence to block proper auditing of the funds.
According to the report “In some areas, the MP not only appoints but also controls the Constituency Development Fund Committee. The MPs have personal assistants stationed at constituency offices to monitor the activities of CDF. As such, MPs have micromanaged CDF to a level that has compromised their oversight role…Corruption networks thrive under devolved funds, thus fuelling resistance to social audits. Some unhappy MPs have attempted to use CDF boards to stop the audits.” The report also accuses some parliamentarians of opposing audits carried out by non-governmental institutions, and dismissing even credible reports.
Earlier in the year Planning Minister, Wycliffe Oparanya, admitted to widespread corruption in the management of CDF however he laid a large portion of the blame on the constituents stating, “corruption is still rife in the management of CDF, but I blame wananchi for remaining silent while leaders misappropriate funds meant to assist them through development projects.”
Since its inception more than 70 billion shillings has been remitted in the form of CDF, annually CDF forms 2.5% of the government’s revenue, but who is auditing? And what is the role of the citizens/constituents in ensuring the funds are well spent?