Rumphi CSOs call for constituency development fund de-politicisation

Rumphi District Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Network has called for the depoliticisation of constituency development fund (CDF) to ensure sustainability and community ownership of the fund.

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The call was made Tuesday in Rumphi District at the presentation of the CDF Budget Tracking Report by the CSOs network with financial support from ActionAid Malawi (AAM). The report presentation— which attracted various community members, traditional leaders, Rumphi district council officials, members of parliament (MPs), district executive committee members, AAM officials and EU head of delegation to Malawi,

Marchel German—sought to share findings of the report and come up with a roadmap to improve implementation of CDF in the district.

The CSOs’ budget tracking exercise was part of the activities under the three-year Social Accountability project AAM is implementing in partnership with Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) with funding from EU.

Title, “Turning CDF implementation challenges into positive implementation changes,” the report samples three constituencies, Rumphi West, Rumphi Central and Rumphi East with focus on community knowledge of CDF, community participation, CDF project budget allocations, procurement of goods and services, community access to information on CDF, monitoring, sustainability and impact of the CDF projects. The report looks at the projects funded during the 2014/15 and 2015/2016 fiscal years.

Among other findings, the report reveals politicization of the fund, saying structures running the CDF consist of the representatives of the MPs.

“To make matters worse, the representatives of the MPs were from the same political party with their MP. This has created divisive political havens that have excluded other stakeholders from a number of institutions,” reads the report in part.

The report also notes communities’ limited access to information regarding budgetary allocations to CDF, expenditures on unnamed projects, and limited community participation in the implementation and monitoring of the projects.

The report also notes that the office of the District Council is bypassed in some processes in the procuring of some goods and services.

“This presents a risk of loss of funds, poor quality of workmanship and noncompliance to the Public Procurement Act (PPA),” fears the report.

Rumphi CSOs chairperson, Falument Mkinga, said the report findings point to the need for de-politicisation of the CDF.

“MPs, Councillors and the general public need to know that CDF is public money and it has to be used for the benefit of the all the constituents regardless of their political affiliations,” said Mkinga. His call was echoed by Director of Planning and Development, Frank Mkandawire, who stressed the need for improved information flow between the council and community structures on CDF to ensure that everyone is fully involved.

AAM Country Director, Grace Malera, said she was pleased to note that through AAM’s social accountability project in the district, various stakeholders including women are being empowered to hold duty bearers accountable. She urged the community members to keep on having such spaces where they can engage duty bearers on various governance issues.

She said the project is also being implemented in Mchinji, Phalombe and Nsanje districts.

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