MPs plot to get CDF cash from Treasury after hitting a brick wall

President William Ruto makes his address during the opening of the 13th Parliament on September 29, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Members of the National Assembly are rushing against time to have monies meant for the National Government Constituency Development Fund released to constituencies before the end of the year.

MPs drawn from Kenya Kwanza and Azimio La Umoja are all in agreement that without the funds by the National Treasury, they are doomed since it will be a tall order to be re-elected in 2027.

The legislators said given that the ad hoc committee that includes Members of National Assembly and Senators is supposed to commence its duties and will require 90 days to present its report to both houses they argued that students who depend on bursaries may not to go to school.

The National Assembly has already appointed 11 members to serve in the joint parliamentary ad hoc committee that seeks to entrench National Government Constituency Development Fund, Senate Oversight Fund and Economic Stimulus Empowerment Fund into the constitution.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwah called on the Senate to appoint a similar number of members to ensure a bicameral approach in the matter and facilitate collection of views from constitutional and Statutory bodies.

Ichungwah said Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga will serve as a co-chair of the ad hoc committee with Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan, Nominated MP John Mbadi, Narok County MP Rebecca Tonkei, and Bungoma County MP Catherine Wambilianga are members.

Dagoretti North MP Beatrice Elachi, Mombasa County MP Zamzam Mohammed, Gatanga MP Edward Mureu, Kibwezi MP Mwenge Kituse and Marakwet West MP Timothy Toroitich are members of this ad hoc committee that is expected to work with their colleagues from the Senate.

“This committee will facilitate collection of views from MPs, constitutional and statutory bodies with law reform mandate including the Attorney General and deliver harmonised version and report to the houses of Parliament within 90 days,” said Ichungwah.

Matungulu MP Stephen Mule and Gichugu MP Robert Gichumu were co-opted to the ad hoc committee having jointly sponsored the Constitutional amendment to establish National Government Constituency Development Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund, Senate Oversight Fund and the Economic Stimulus Empowerment Fund in the constitution.

Mule and Gichimu are proposing to have National Government Constituency Development Fund kitty increased from 2.5 percent of national revenue to five percent, National Government Affirmative Action Fund increased 0.25 percent and Senate Oversight Fund to 0.001 percent of the national revenue.

Ichungwah said that both the Senate and National Assembly need to work together to ensure that these very important funds that are required for facilitation of development projects in various parts of the country are fully entrenched in the constitution to make them legal. 

“I would like to tell anyone fighting the Constituency Development Fund thinking that he is punishing MPs that he is doing a great disservice to the country since all Kenyans are in support of the continued existence of the fund,” said Ichungwah.

Seme MP James Nyikal seconded the motion by Ichungwah saying CDF has brought tremendous development in the last 20 years and that it was logical to have the fund continue.

Nyikal said it would be a great disservice to stop the existence of the Constituency Development Fund because of the law and it was imperative for Parliament to change the law to make the fund legal asking both houses to move with speed to actualise it.

“I know this process will require at least a month to be concluded but we cannot go on recess before we concluded it, we need a Kamukunji with the Finance Cabinet Secretary to look into ways of dispatching money to our constituencies,” said Nyikal.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed said all MPs will work with speed to ensure the NG-CDF is fully operational since the failure to entrench by the previous parliaments was regrettable and they cannot allow a mistake to continue being done under their watch.

Junet said the war on CDF was worrying since schools, police stations, health centres and other projects having been done using the fund wondering what agenda whoever is fighting it intends to achieve and whose interest these people might be serving.

“The era of waiting for the President to come to my constituency so that I can beg for development is over, development is the right of Kenyans that is why we need CDF in place, CDF is a constitutional right to Kenyans and we are going to champion it day and night to ensure it succeeds,” said Junet.

Suba North MP Millicent Odhiambo said that those opposed to CDF are enemies of Kenyans and have never known the problems ordinary Kenyans face on a daily basis and have an elitist point of view which did not resonate well with a majority of Kenyans saying the fund is a model for other African countries.

“Members of National Assembly, it does not matter whether you are on the government or opposition side without the Constituency Development Fund in place you will be going home very early in the morning in August 2027,” said Odhiambo.

Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo said that MPs will work hard to have NGCDF in the constitution saying that children of poor Kenyans risked failing going to school due to lack of fees besides other basic development programmes failing to kick off if it is not allowed to exist.

“If we continue suppressing the poor, God is definitely going to punish us, those making ruling against CDF are definitely not considerate of the majority of Kenyans who are not able to take care of their basic need but stood to benefit from the fund over the years,” said Gogo.

Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said the motion was crucial and enjoyed the support of Kenyans irrespective of their political persuasion and should be supported by all Members of Parliament.

Wandayi said the committee does not need 90 days to accomplish its duties since this is a mandate that is going to ensure economic freedom for Kenyans and that he was delighted to be part of the parliament that is going to fast-track this process for the good of Kenyans.

Mbadi apologized to Kenyans for having served in previous parliaments that did not entrench CDF to the constitution which has led to the current crisis and that it would be a great disservice for anyone to disband the kitty that has changed lives of citizens.

Emurua Dikirr Johana Ngéno wondered why some people have never understood why CDF was introduced in the country yet it had made great difference in development in various parts of the country despite their political persuasion like it used to happen in the past.

Molo MP Kuria Kimani said that he went to Secondary school and University due to the support he got from the Constituency Development Fund given that his mother who was a single mother could not afford to pay his fees forcing his late grandfather to seek for bursary to help him learn.

Sirisia MP John Waluke said that the threat to remove CDF has been there in the last two parliaments and apologized for being among those who did not champion for it being anchored in law and would be in the forefront of making things this time round.

Senators had earlier criticised their counterparts in the National Assembly for intending to anchor the National Government Constituency Development Fund the Senate Oversight Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund and Economic Stimulus and Empowerment Fund in the Constitution without involving them.

The Senators who were speaking during a retreat in Mombasa early this month vowed to kick out the proposed changes accusing their counterparts for overlooking their input in coming up with the proposals since none of them including their Leadership had been consulted over the matter.