LUSAKA – The Civil Society Organizations Decentralization Alliance Network (CSO DAN) has called on Local Government Minister Gary Nkombo to convene a mid-term consultative review of the CDF to get views and suggestions stakeholders on the guidelines.
George Chimembe, acting national coordinator of CSO-DAN, explains that this is to facilitate rapid access to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) by local communities.
“We propose that the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Gary Nkombo, consider convening a mid-term consultative review of the CDF to allow stakeholder views and suggestions to feed into the ‘inevitable review of the law and of the CDF’s guidelines,’ he said in a statement.
“For example, signatory approval of CDF bank accounts and CDF projects should be a function that should be delegated to the provincial and district levels. Similarly, the issuance of cooperative certificates should be delegated to provinces and districts. This will facilitate quick access to the CDF by local churches.”
Chimembe also called on the government to amend the Local Government Act 2019 to align its provisions with the principles of decentralization set out in Part IX of the Constitution.
“…The current provisions of the act give the Minister many powers. This is clearly detrimental to the spirit of decentralization and that is why it becomes imperative for the new dawn government to initiate a process of reviewing the legal framework around the CDF,” added Chimembe.
“CSO-DAN would like to agree with the Minister of Finance, Hon. Situmbeko Musokotawane, that the mechanisms to facilitate access to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) are rigid and restrictive and pose a challenge for proper implementation of the CDF.
“We believe this runs counter to the transformative decentralization agenda being pursued by the President, His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema and the new dawn government.
“It would be counterproductive to arrive at the end of the fiscal year and find that more than 70% of the CDF is still at the Treasury.”
Chimembe noted that President Hichilema would not tolerate delays in CDF disbursements if he followed his words.
“We don’t think the president, who has shown so much passion and political will to deepen decentralization, will take such an eventuality kindly and some people will have to explain something to the head of state,” Chimembe said.
“It is also important that the New Dawn government amend the Local Government Act 2019 to align its provisions with the principles of decentralization set out in Part IX of the Republican Constitution.
“Some of the provisions of the Local Government Act conflict with the provisions of the Part IX Constitution and require urgent attention.”