SOUTHERN Province Minister Cornelius Mweetwa says the budgetary allocation to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has to be increased to US$1 million.

Speaking during the installation of Mazabuka Mayor Javen Simoloka, Monday, Mweetwa said the increase in CDF would mean that the council would grow their capacity, especially when it comes to issues of accountability and transparency.

He further said the issue of councils being perpetrators of abuse of CDF should come to an end.

“During the forthcoming national budget, CDF has to be increased to about US$ 1 million. That exponential increase in CDF means the council should grow its capacity even better especially when it comes to issues of accountability and transparency. Councils have been a victim or have been perpetrators of abuse of CDF, that must come to an end now and then. The idea of making a CDF committee make decisions, a full council make decisions, you even subject those decisions to DDC or even PPDC yet when it comes to procurement, the procurement unit go and make their own decisions to suit their pockets and not the community, should belong to history,” Mweetwa said.

He said President Hakainde Hichilema had declared war on corruption and that the idea of giving tenders to friends was over.

“The idea of procurement units forming companies and awarding themselves through those companies contracts or tenders to supply CDF projects should belong to history. Let me take this opportunity to remind all procurement entities in this province that His Excellency the President has declared war on corruption, zero tolerance to corruption and that his eagle’s eye in this province is number one of the President’s eagle’s eye. The idea of giving tenders to friends, from one ministry when you have tenders, you facilitate for your friend from another ministry to supply and when it is time, for the vice versa is over!” Mweetwa said.

“His Excellency has directed us to remind all procurement agencies of government of three things that he would like to see in that subsector to be espoused, procurements should be at the right price, at the right cost. If at your farm, you procure a borehole for K20,000, now because you are sinking a borehole for CDF it should cost K60,000, you will be in trouble. His Excellency has said whatever the council or any other spending agency must procure on behalf of the people of Zambia, must be of quality. They must be quality assurances to ensure attainment of value for money spent. Time is gone where projects of CDF should have shoddy workmanship; this is why His Excellency has brought in more money. So the main infrastructure development at ward level will come through CDF, therefore the President demands quality assurances, value for money.”

Mweetwa said government would continue to increase equalization funds to the councils so that they could operate efficiently.

“His Excellency the President has said whatever goods and services we procure for and on behalf of the citizens of Mazabuka of the Southern Province of Zambia, those goods and services must be delivered on time so that the monetary value at the time of contract should run in tandem with timely service delivery. Awarding contracts to people or entities that lack capacity will not be met with kind posture from this administration. As a government, we are determined to ensure that through the councils who are the front line service providers on behalf of the government, councils must operate effectively and efficiently and that is why this administration will continue to increase equalization funds to the councils to ensure that the councils are stable. In doing this, in providing these resources to the council, the councils are expected in turn to be prudent in the management of these resources and not just prudent but to attach skill and expertise to what they do,” he said.

Mweetwa said the newly elected Mazabuka Mayor and his team were expected to deliver to the expectations of the people.

“Times are now of history where people were getting employed through the local government service commission on the basis of relationship and not qualification. We expect better from Mazabuka Council. We are happy we have a mayor who already has the experience, we expect that your worship the mayor and your team will deliver to the expectation of the people. Not too long ago, you were a mayor and councilors for the opposition and sometimes, some of the things that management would do were at variance with your party philosophy. Now you are ruling, it is expected that everyone should do the like of the philosophy and manifesto of the party of the day in government,” said Mweetwa.