MPs to lobby for new constituency development kitty

The Nyali Constituency Development Funds (CDF) Offices in Mombasa

The Nyali Constituency Development Funds (CDF) Offices in Mombasa in this photo taken on June 27,  2022.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Legislators from marginalised constituencies have stated they will lobby for another development kitty after the National Government

Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) was declared illegal.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the fund is illegal and unconstitutional.

But some MPs from the Coast, who argued that their constituencies benefited from the CDF kitty, said the ruling would undermine development.

They vowed that once sworn in, they will work with the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to kick-start the process of creating a new fund properly anchored in law.

Kinango MP-elect Gonzi Rai and his Kaloleni counterpart Paul Katana said they respect the Supreme Court ruling but lawmakers need to rethink how funds are disbursed to constituencies.

“We shall consult widely once we go to Parliament after being sworn in. I am optimistic the issue can be resolved, even if it involves coming up with a bill. Marginalised constituencies rely on such funds to build key infrastructure,” he said.

Mr Rai said CDF money was well utilised and its effect was felt by locals. He said the great impact of the NG-CDF across the country cannot be gainsaid.

“I think the funds should be managed at constituency levels to avoid corruption and misappropriation as we have seen in some sectors such as health,” he said.

A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Martha Koome ruled that the NG-CDF Act offends the constitutional principle of separation of powers.

The judges also argued that local projects that MPs run through the NG-CDF are unconstitutional because the Constitution vests the powers to execute such programmes in devolved units.

Each constituency received at least Sh100 million every year and legislators used the kitty for community development projects.

The ruling ended a nine-year court battle between MPs and civil society groups, which argued that managing the fund in constituencies was illegal.

The case was filed in the High Court in 2013 and escalated to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal overturned the first court’s finding.

The matter pitted The Institute for Social Accountability (Tisa) and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance against lawmakers.

Before the 12th Parliament ended, MPs had allocated themselves Sh4.9 billion as they rushed to implement constituency projects ahead of the August 9 General Election under the Treasury budget.

Since it was launched in 2003, the CDF has been hit by a myriad of challenges attributed to corruption among managers hand-picked by MPs to run the kitty.

Managers were accused of abusing the procurement system to enrich themselves, while disbursing education bursaries was riddled with favouritism and nepotism.

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