Parliamentarians and councillors should be disqualified from spearheading projects under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) as they have been using it for political patronage, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has suggested.
Appearing before the committee on Local Government and Housing, TIZ director of programmes Wesley Chibamba, said the funding had been highly politicized and wrongly believed to be personal funding from parliamentarians and councillors.
“TIZ continues to receive reports on perceptions that the CDF projects have been highly politicized, they are wrongly associated with personal funding from a Member of Parliament or councillor whom they usually think they source the benefit for the community,” he said.
He also said reports generated from researches conducted by his organization showed that the MPs and councillors dominated the decision-making processes for projects to be funded.
Mr Chibanda said there was a lot of corruption in the issuance of tenders by dominant elected constituent representatives, councillors and council employees.
He also said it was unhelpful for the CDF to be the same amount in all constituencies as some were larger than others.
“Distribution of resources in the ‘one size fits all’ kind of approach without taking into account context, geographical, social and economic characteristics of the constituency is not helpful. Some constituencies are bigger than others, some are significantly less developed than others, and some have severe problems compared to others,” he said.
Mr Chibamba explained that people especially those in the rural areas did not know much about the fund and it was for that reason that TIZ had come with a programme dubbed citizens’ engagement on domestic accountability.
He said the progamme which was currently running in Chongwe and Choma was meant to create an opportunity for citizens to meet their leaders who would explain what the CDF was and what it was meant for.
“The CDF is not properly known to most ordinary citizens regardless of the extent of their proximity to CDF funded projects. The situation is worse for communities that are far from urban areas as they hardly know about the existence of the CDF.
‘‘This has implications on transparency and accountability in the management of the fund as well as citizen participation in CDF projects,” Mr Chibamba said.