Hon Folks, MPs want Goodall Gondwe to juggle the shoe-string cash budget and set aside a six-month lump-sum funding for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
Should that happen, and coupled with the borehole and rural development funding, the incumbents will all have a lot to brag about by the time Parliament is dissolved in March 2019.
But the ploy has inherent serious problems. First, it means taxpayers’ money being used for campaign purposes to the disadvantage of candidates who aren’t in government.
Second, it implies flouting the cash-budget logic by inequitably allocating more funds to one budget line at the expense other equally important expenditure line duly passed by Parliament. .
Based on provisions in the 2018/19 National Budget, the CDF demand translates into the provision of nearly K14.5 billion at once to a budget line where Treasury would ordinarily be making monthly allocations of about K402 million.
The latter is better suited to the cash-budget system which pegs expenditure to the revenue collected month-to month.
Why have the MPs made funding for constituency development a number one priority in this year’s budget? Could the fear of losing in the 2019 parliamentary polls? Folks, it’s been a rough ride for past users some of whom ending up as an “honourable” taxi drivers or “honourable” airtime vendors!
I for one do not believe their CDF demand in made with the constituents in mind. If it were just for the love of their constituencies or if the peace-meal funding was ineffective, they would’ve made their demand in 2015 or 2016 or 2017.
What we see happening now is the sign of panic. Voters are less forgiving when those they elected into office fail to deliver to the expectation of the electorate.
MPs know that folks in the villages are brainwashed into believing that they elect MPs to “bring” development from government to their respective areas which constitutionally is the of ward councillors.
The fact that MPs are elected to enact laws and providing checks and balances to the Executive and Legislature—important though these elitist roles may be—simply do not make much sense, especially at the village level.
That’s probably why there’s rivalry between MPs and councillors. The Legislators have gone to the extent of conniving with the Executive—which also loathes councillors end ensured that 10 years they were inexistent.
Instead, the Executive have shown readiness to prop up the role of chiefs. Many of them have been appointed, elevated and given generous honorariums of as much as K100 000. In turn, the so-called government of the day simply demands the unflinching support and loyalty of the gullible chiefs who constitute one of the most corrupt institution, according to polls.
Consequently, councillors have virtually assumed superfluous job, having their space at the district council and in the wards thoroughly invaded by MPs and chiefs with the blessing of the Executive. Goodall’s allocation of the controversial K4 billion rural development funds seals the shift to MPs, and possibly chiefs also, the task of spearheading development projects at the grassroots which, constitutionally, belongs to councillors.
By the end of the day the lingering questions remains: why should we waste time voting in the local polls in 2019 when well-remunerated MPs and chiefs are all over the place duplicating duties and powers vested in councillors who get peanuts for allowances and are pushed further and further away from development projects at the grassroots?
Why does government appear hell-bent to pander to the whims of MPs on CDF? APM would do what it takes to ensure smooth sail of government business in the august House so he can channel his energies to the 2019 presidential race. Without many accomplishments to show for his first term, APM knows his victory depends more on facing a weakened opposition.
On their part, MPs are ready to support the government agenda in the august House —as attested to by the thwarting of electoral reform bills; denying legitimacy to CSO calls for the dismissal of Finance Minister Gondwe and Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa for their roles in the K4 billion scam; and the shooting down of a private member’s Bill for MBC to be denied public funding.
On their part, they want government fund their campaign. That way, they will have a strong case of zitukuko (development projects) to soften the heart of the electorate. What a win-win scenario based on a corrupt premise!