Last week witnessed some very animated and spirited debate in the National Assembly. What should have been a debate on the national budget instead degenerated into an exchange on national unity and the allocation of national resources.
Opposition members of Parliament were not amused by the discriminatory manner in which resources are being allocated and so heated was the debate that the Chairmen of the session was forced to warn members
They have observed for example that Government has distributed the constituency Development Fund to PF held constituencies only. The few opposition constituencies are those where by elections are due. in many respects become a debate on national unity and the clarification of national ethos. The one theme that has preoccupied the National Assembly in the last one week has been national unity.
Although debate should have been on the national budget, Members of Parliament have
At first the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing Mr. Tembo suggested that fifty-six constituencies had received their CDF amounting to K72, 800,000 as at 31 August, 2013 and that factors inhibiting the disbursement of the CDF to the remaining ninety-four constituencies, whose unreleased balance is K122, 200,000, include the late submission of expenditure returns on the utilization of the CDF for 2012.
This he explained was the basis and real cause of the delay in releasing the 2013 allocation. He added that all the remaining ninety-four constituencies would receive their CDF before 31st December, 2013.
Another Minister Mrs. Kabanshi tried to explain that the absorption rate of the CDF is very slow and that returns for money disbursed previously had not been submitted in time and as a result the treasury had not released the money in good time.
However an analysis of the records of disbursement shows serious inconsistency which seems to suggested a systemic plan of discrimination against opposition constituencies.
An example was cited of Mwembeshi Constituency where the 2012 fund was disbursed in the fourth quarter of that year. By the fourth quarter of this year the CDF has yet to be disbursed.
By implication when the fund is disbursed at the end of this year a report will not be submitted until later in the year of 2014, thereby creating rolling delay which will affect the constituency adversely.
Overall it is very clear that a pattern is emerging where Government funds are being used to prop up and sustain institutions that are seen to be politically supportive of the ruling party.
This is a form of corruption that must be condemned in the very strongest terms because it undermines the very essence of Zambia as a multiparty democracy where all the citizens are equal and must be able to access state resources without worrying about their political orientation.
The CDF concept was launched in order to bring development closer to the people. It was intended to make the people determine their priorities instead of waiting for regular disbursement from central Government.
This will be rendered useless if central Government again decides to politicize it.