Resources meant for development at the grassroots always excite various interests, something the Judgment that found the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) as unconstitutional has proven. Interests are always good and welcome but worthy interests are those which are about developing the social fabric of society; schools, healthcare and infrastructure.
In the Petition filed by the Institute of Social Accountability (TISA), the petitioners wanted the Judges to find the CDF (Amendment) Act 2013 as unconstitutional as it was in contravention with the spirit of the devolution in the Constitution, something the judges agreed with. The Judges were however reasonable to rule that Parliament has 12 months to amend the law to align it with the Constitution.
Fundamentally, this alignment is to entrench CDF in Counties. Parliamentarians reactions have sent mixed signals. Some are saying they will work on ensuring they amend the law as the judges advised while others stating that they will challenge it at the Court of Appeal.
That CDF has made a great difference to Kenyans lives is not in doubt. The fund awards bursaries to children from poor families and supports communities to construct and equip clinics which significantly reduce their healthcare burden. In some areas, roads have been constructed to ease access to markets. However, the question is at which level of government should CDF sit at to ensure it is better managed? This is a very healthy debate that all need to embrace with sober minds and action.
TISA’s case was born of the need to ensure that there is no overlap or contradiction in law. What CDF is in constituencies, is a mini-devolved fund, which to a degree usurps County functions. At the very least, having a unitary structure of disbursing the funds helps to better structure and attend to citizens. In its current form, it is very easy for projects to overlap, a perfect avenue to fleece the public.
Recently, MPs passed the law to strip Governors of the Excellency title and flag among others. As a result, some governors now perceive the recent ruling on CDF management as a great boost to further their agenda and actually want the fund scrapped and the monies allocated to them, a perfect opportunity to get back at the MPs.
Yet, all interests in matters CDF should be about the good work that it has done and seeking ways to seal loopholes for corruption. The proposed amendment should also see to it that more funds are allocated to projects than administration of the funds. All these interests have a place in ensuring that devolution works and citizens get value from their elected leaders.
Will MPs and Governors put their best foot forward and prioritize Wanjiku’s interest over their personal agendas? What kind of changes should be introduced to CDF management to cater to all the parties ‘visibility’ interests at the grassroots?