Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) has been working on devolved funds for the last five years. Using the Social Accountability model, we have sought to increase the levels of participation of citizens in the identification, prioritization, implementation, monitoring and auditing of projects funded by different devolved funds. While civil society organization (CSO)’s efforts have concentrated on the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which is holistic in its approach and covers a broad range of projects, we have also covered other funds including Local Authorities Transfer Fund (LATF) and Constituency Bursary Fund (CBF). To some extent, success in raising the profile of CDF amongst the public has been achieved but improvement of the framework of operation including the legal framework has remained stagnant.
CDF continues to operate in very controversial, illegal and arguably unconstitutional circumstances. However, Parliamentarians have chosen to ignore these facts simply because the status quo benefits them. In most constituencies, CDF is rife with corruption and nepotism.
Projects undertaken are sub standard and implemented selectively. At the moment, one or two unfinished classroomed schools are littered all over constituencies with most having no students since they do not have teachers. It seems like the CDF kitty is only meant for contractors who reap heavily from the shoddy work that they do. To the communities, they just see projects being implemented without their approval and in the long run, there has been no or very little to show for the billions of shillings utilized so far by CDF.
In addition, CDF goes against the principle of separation of powers where the three arms of the State (Executive, Legislature and
Judiciary) are to operate separately. In the case of CDF, it is MPs who make the law, it is they who implement the CDF projects in their constituencies and when the CDF kitty is audited, the Auditor General presents his report to the same parliament for approval. MPs thus become the legislators, executors and jurors who approve their own work. The current parliament is full of lawyers who are aware of this fact but they have chosen to remain mum.
It is for these reasons that MUHURI is now calling for the immediate suspension of CDF in the country. It is our firm belief that as long as MPs continue to get their allocations, then they will not bother to address the many problems within CDF. However, if the funds were to be suspended, then everyone’s interest in streamlining the fund will be captured and hopefully positive changes undertaken. In addition, in the absence of a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, many CDF Committees continue to deny Kenyans their right to know what exactly happens with the funds. As the country gears up for Constitutional reforms, controversial laws such as CDF should be repealed to give room for review and reintroduction under the new Constitutional dispensation.
We thus appeal to all those responsible to suspend CDF forthwith to allow for improvement in its implementation framework. MUHURI shall continue to support positive legal reforms that are meant to benefit the common Mwananchi.
By Hussein Khalid