MPs should stick to their core mandate; legislation

Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. June 4, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Supreme Court's ruling declaring the Constituency Development Fund Act unconstitutional is welcome.

The court said the Act offends separation of powers and that MPs should not oversee the implementation or coordination of the projects and at the same time offer oversight over the same projects. MPs, according to the judges, are only allowed to legislate and oversight the national revenue and its expenditure.

Further, the judges noted that constituencies, as conceptualised in the Constitution, are supposed to offer political representation and not service delivery, which the judges is the province of the counties and the national government.

It is not a secret that the National Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) has often been mismanaged. There have been instances where projects under the National Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) have stalled, failed or succeeded only on paper, and little is done to bring to book the people behind the mismanagement.

But despite such downsides, however, the NG-CDF is not intrinsically a bad idea. The fund has been helpful in certain circumstances where MPs have utilised it well for the benefit of the voters. There are many students who are in school or have gone through the education system, thanks to the NG-CDF bursaries. The fund has also helped to build many classrooms across the country. For these reasons, the NG-CDF idea should not die.

Since the Supreme Court did not abolish the fund completely, the money now reverts to the national government. We urge that this money continues to be used on projects and programmes that are beneficial to the constituencies, including bursaries for poor students. Proper structures, that are in line with the Constitution and that deny MPs a role in the management of the fund, should be put in place as soon as possible to manage the kitty.

MPs should stick to their roles of legislation, oversight and representation.