KANTANSHI PF member of parliament Anthony Mumba says the Constituency Development Fund guidelines are not flexible enough to ensure efficient service delivery.
In an interview, Mumba said very few projects would be actualised in the constituencies as the nature of the procurement process was lengthy.
“We are also aware that there will be all these challenges of time, because of the nature of our procurement plan and also the process beyond the procurement. The projects have to be approved by the Minister and then we also have to get approvals from the Accountant General. So just that length of time, I can assure you, there will be very few projects that will be done. Unless government on the other hand will be able to become a bit more flexible. Take for example that K635,000 which is in the bank for the last three months, if the CDF policy was flexible, we could have said since this money is for school relating activities, we could use it to paint schools or buy uniforms for the vulnerable,” he said.
“So for me, the opportunity to contribute to people’s lives at community level differently lies through CDF. We also have to accept that it will not be s small walk in the park. It will be a lot of adjustments and a lot of agreements and disagreements because of the fact that what the councilor might think is a good project, might not be what the MP thinks. So we need to build consensus and work together.”
Mumba said there was a cocktail of issues which needed to be addressed, particularly the procurement guidelines.
“So even if the government was to release more money this week, there are a cocktail of issues that need to be addressed. We have got the procurement guidelines on one hand which I believe will not even be so supportive to actualising so many activities at the same time. The procurement guidelines state that for anything above half a million Kwacha, you have to firstly adverstise in the national paper for 30 days. Then the evaluation is 21 days. Then you also have another 10 days for any contractor or supplier who disagrees with the decision of the procurement committee. You already have three months just before you agree to say this contract is going to be awarded to this contractor. There is also need for us to review the procurement process and maybe the threshold should be changed so that a lot of work can be done in short space of time,” he said.
“As it stands right now, I can assure you that even for those political bandits who are pushing the agenda to say that the CDF has not come out, there is a lot of work to be done. Right now there is a circular stating that all projects which the WDCs are going to identify are supposed to be submitted I think by the 3rd of April or something like that. Remember, you just do not come up with projects, there must be consensus. There are all these stakeholders that you have to somehow fit into this developmental agenda. We know that when we do a project, it is not about the MP but about the people.”
Mumba said it was commendable that government was committed to ensuring that CDF got into the communities.
“First of all, we need to create a sense of appreciation in as far as government’s commitment to ensuring that the CDF gets into the communities. And of course, those communities start getting involved in some sort of economic activity which would translate into people having a bit of money in their pockets. So I do support government’s effort in as far as issues of sensitisations are concerned. The reason I am doing that is you can imagine, 156 constituencies, we have received K635,000 meant for sending pupils to boarding schools under the bursary facility,” said Mumba.
“I can tell you that speaking for Kantanshi, I do not have more than 10 pupils going to boarding school. This is the story in most constituencies. In short, the K635,000 is just lying in the banks in the constituencies. So commercial banks are just sitting on this taxpayers’ money which they can actually use and multiply. So the issue of capacity building is extremely important. The councils have organised meetings but I believe as MPs, we need to do more. So you got to do a cross cutting stakeholders meeting. For example, I have called for a meeting as MP with the ward development committees and the councilors.”