Constituency Development Catalyst Funds (CDCFs) is a scheme in which national legislatures allocate public funds to local communities or districts for development projects.
By law, many of these local funds are controlled by the legislator for an individual district. The CDCF would give each MP funds for development projects in his or her constituency. Thus, while these efforts to decentralize development spending and decision making have potential to improve anti-poverty and other development initiatives, increases public participation in decisions that directly affect their communities, and ensure that funds for development reach communities throughout the country. According to Section 5(3) (a) (b) of the Act 75% amount of funds received by each constituency would depend on the size of the geographical constituency, its population and the degree of poverty and 25% shall be allocated equally to each constituency.
The Constituency Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF) Bill, passed by Parliament recently, is against the country's constitution, the passing of the Bill contravened Article 63 sub Article 2 of the Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 as amended from time to time.
The Article states: "Parliament has the authority on behalf of the people to oversee and advice the government of the United Republic of Tanzania and all of its organs in discharge of their respective responsibilities in accordance with this constitution."
The CDCF Bill passed by the National Assembly on July 31, 2009 among other things, mandates MPs to become chairpersons of constituency development catalyst committees, which approve every "allocation and disbursement of funds from CDCF to fund development projects in their constituencies."
The constitutional right of the MPs is not to fund projects, but to act as representatives of the people so as to hold the government accountable in delivering quality services through different means.
By becoming chairpersons of CDCF committees, MPs would automatically lose their powers as government watchdogs, a crucial function in making sure that the Government undertakes its obligations as required.
From the Act we learned that the CDCF is meant to be a catalyst to implement the ongoing Decentralization-by-Devolution policy (‘D-by-D’). However, the top-down decision to enact the CDCF appears to run contrary to the spirit of D-by-D.
If you ask MPs why the CDCF was established, they normally give two reasons. First, they point out that MPs currently spend their own money to help poor people in their constituencies, and so the CDCF will relieve them of that burden. But this ignores MPs’ primary oversight role. If the MPs are busy managing CDCF monies, will they still be able to effectively scrutinize and monitor Government spending?
Furthermore, what precautions are in place to ensure that the CDCF does not turn into another form of Takrima? If during their election campaigns MPs promise certain philanthropic projects and are elected for that reason, they ought to use their own money to deliver, not taxpayers’ monies.
The second reason cited by MPs in support of the CDCF is that this money will speed development efforts at the local level. But what of all the other existing funding mechanisms with that same goal?
It seems we often decide to do certain things because other countries have done so, or as a result of directive from the central government. So, do we implement the CDCF because it has been done in Kenya and because the central government has decided to do so? I have not heard anybody saying the citizens decided. How many orders have the Prime Minister or President given to Councils to implement? Where they priorities for each particular Council?
It is my view that the CDCF will rob MPs their power to hold the Government accountable, and will also fuel petty and grand corruption in the country. The funds channeled through the intended new system would not make a difference in the lives of the marginalized majority poor.
I urge that MPs should listen to the voices of the people and put national interest ahead of individual political interests and gains.
YETS – what is your opinion on CDCF?