MINISTRY of Local Government and Rural Development permanent secretary Wisdom Bwalya says the release of Constituency Development Fund was delayed because government was trying to build fund management capacity.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Information Media Director and spokesperson Thabo Kawana says it is wrong to insinuate that only former Ministers are being summoned by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), arguing that the media is failing the nation because it only picks on prominent individuals.
When he featured on Diamond TV, Friday, Kawana was asked to explain why the disbursement of CDF had delayed but he opted to call Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Wisdom Bwalya to respond to that question in detail.
Below is part of the transcript of the conversation:
Presenter: I was speaking to Kamfinsa member of parliament Christopher Kango’mbe who bitterly complained that up until now, the only money that has gone into constituencies is about K600,000. Why haven’t you disturbed CDF in the constituencies?
Kawana: CDF will be disbursed. Remember, this is the first time we are taking this huge resource to the people. We are ensuring that we build the capacity at local level, that is the ward development committee. So we are doing the orientations to ensure that the utilisation of these resources is put to proper use. The money is ready and is waiting. Very soon, we are releasing the money because then we would have managed to build capacity of people at the lowest level.
Presenter: The PF is concerned that the revenue side is not doing well. The government is not collecting much revenue as it should collect. Is that the reason why it has delayed?
Kawana: I am just explaining to you that this is what we are doing. Of course the PF will tell you that maybe there is no money. I want to assure you that the money is there. The PF say a lot of things then when we try to make them understand they say we are arrogant. They say a lot of things that they do not understand.
They were saying we will not employ teachers and health workers but we are doing that. They said we will not manage CDF but we are doing it. Remember, it will be disbursed quarterly. So the money for this quarter is ready and it will be disbursed. Maybe even as soon as next week.
Let me just try and do this. You will forgive me a little bit, let us try and get the permanent secretary for Local Government so that we see if we can get him.
And when Kawana called Bwalya, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development permanent secretary confirmed that CDF would be disbursed this week.
“The public sentiments where people are assuming that I think there is a problem or failure on the part of the government to release CDF. You recall that the launch of CDF was done last month in Livingstone by the Minister of Local Government. After the launch, we did assure the nation that we are going to roll out the sensitisation programmes. We are talking about 25.7 million and that is a lot of money. We are looking at the absorption capacity of local authorities. A lot of new things are coming on board and we need to be thorough in terms of sensitisation. Let me assure you that the funds will be released and by next week we should be seeing the money released through the Ministry of Local Government from the Ministry of Finance,” said Bwalya.
“The delay has been attributed to the fact that we want the people handling funds to be actually brought to speed in management of funds. It will be done quarterly. People were not too sure when we talked about bursaries. They thought the government was not being honest. We released the bursaries and that money is sitting in all the councils in 156 constituencies. We are following that up with the first release of what should have been the first quarter. I cannot give you the exact figure because that will be done by the Ministry of Finance. What I am very certain of is that come next week, the funds will be released to all local authorities in the country.”
Meanwhile, Kawana said it was wrong to insinuate that only former Ministers were being summoned by the ACC.
“First of all, it is not only Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, there are many people appearing before the ACC for corruption. There are many appearing such as cashiers and Accounts. So it is not correct to insinuate that only former Ministers are appearing before court after being charged with corruption related cases. It is you, the media, failing the nation because you only pick the people you refer to as prominent,” said Kawana.
“When you bring that information up, you are creating an impression that only former Ministers are being followed when infact not. This fight is against a fight called corruption. So those entangled in corruption have waged their own fight. But their fight is against the fight against corruption. The government has waged a war against corruption while the culprits have also waged their own counter war which is to fight the fight against corruption.”