The president recently signed into law the Bill that regularizes the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The new CDF act known as National Government Constituencies Development Fund sponsored by Eldama Ravine’s MP Moses Lessonet was unanimously passed by members of the National Assembly. This means that the constituencies will continue to receive CDF funds. The new law makes the funds a mandate of the MPs with monies being used to supplement national government development projects in the counties. The fund will not be used to fund devolved functions.
The Bill has been remodeled in such a way that it allows for citizens participation in how the funds are used. The local MP has the mandate to form a 5 member voluntary committee who will attend fund meetings to ensure equitable distribution of the monies. MPs will not be part of the committees but will have one member from their office representing them. The MP will further allow members of the public to share their views by forming citizen based project oversight committees bi-annually. The final fund committees in all constituencies will need to be approved by the National Assembly meaning MPs influence their membership. The fund has previously been marred by corruption and embezzlement allegations leading to calls for greater accountability and non-interference.
Earlier in the year civil society had called on the High Court to declare CDF unconstitutional as it offends the division of power and the Public Finance in the allocation of public funds. The previous Act was outdated as it did not align itself with the new constitution. There have been further calls for the funds to be implemented at a sub-county level as opposed to the constituency level in the spirit of respecting the division of powers. There needs to be clear division between the functions of the National government and that of MPs. MPs main function remains as legislation, representation and oversight; not the implementation of national government projects at the Constituency level.
The Senate spoke out against lack of inclusion in the new CDF Bill vowing to challenge its implementation in court. The High Court had previously issued a ruling calling for The Senate to be included in the revisions of the Bill but the National Assembly and the President in signing the Bill failed to honour this. If the fund is to be initiated at a constituency level, then members of the Senate ought to be involved as they are the overseers of devolution and constituency functions impact the county as well. It will be a matter of great interest to see whether the Senate will make good its word in suing over the lack of inclusion in the making of the Bill.
How would you like the CDF to be managed at the local level? Please send us your thoughts.