More CDF is good news but MPs must do better

MPs must be some of the happiest people in the country today: An important decision that directly affects them has been made in their favour.

Funding to the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) and the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) has been increased by Sh10 billion for Financial Year 2023/24. The National Assembly has endorsed the increased allocations to the funds.

Every one of the 47 constituencies will receive an extra allocation of Sh20-30 million. To boost the work of Woman Reps, who have special programmes tailored to benefit women and children, Sh1 billion will be channelled through the NGAAF.

One can only imagine what the MPs, whose performance has been eased by the availability of these funds to channel into various programmes, would have fared without the additional allocations. Indeed, when the Supreme Court declared the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act unconstitutional, the MPs were stunned by the decision. The highest court in the land said it violate the principle of separation of powers.

The MPs’ main role is to make laws. But they have tended to take control of the CDF, usurping an executive role that, ideally, belongs elsewhere. According to the court, members of legislative bodies should not be entangled in service delivery.

Curse or blessing?

The CDF has enabled some good work to be done in the constituencies, hence the need to retain it in whatever form that does not go against the spirit of the good governance envisaged by the Constitution. But the involvement of politicians in its management is to blame for some of the shortcomings—including corruption, cronyism and mismanagement. 

The big question now is whether the increased CDF will be a curse or a blessing. Will the MPs, who are now somewhat relieved, ensure that the funds are used for development, as intended, or is this another opportunity for a looting frenzy that has been witnessed in some constituencies? 

There is a need to improve the management of these public resources and enhance accountability.