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William Ruto: CDF will be back, it's value for money

 Renovated classrooms courtesy of Bondo NG-CDF. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

President-elect William Ruto has told MPs that he will find a way of returning the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) that was recently declared illegal by the court.

Ruto said the fund had been impactful and the country needed its continuity.

"Don't worry at all, not because of any other reasons or some cause, but because CDF has really given us value for money in many areas," the President-elect told Kenya Kwanza Alliance Parliamentary Group at his residence in Karen, Nairobi.

The NG-CDF was outlawed by the Supreme Court a day before the August 9 General Election, declaring the Act, which was enacted in 2013 and changed in 2015, unconstitutional. This means CDF committee in constituencies are disbanded.

Fresh units will be set up under the new system that has MPs as more of observers than active participants in deciding how the fund is used. It was the end of an era after MPs lost control and management of CDF projects after the new law came into force.

Ruto also said he open discussions on the enhancement of the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) for Woman Reps given that the cash also had an impact on the community.

"We will be entertaining a discussion that NGAAF can be enhanced. We know that many Women Reps have been going through difficulties as they are judged by the same standards as other MPs," he said.

The President-elect urged the MPs to be considerate to Women Reps. "I know the resistance that normally comes whenever we want to start empowering the women. You should not be afraid," he said.

First business

When the newly elected MPs turned up for induction a week ago, they said their first business after taking oath of office would be to reinstate NG-CDF.

Set up in 2003, the fund has been a pet project of MPs, who over the years used it to buy loyalty and to have the financial muscle to campaign against their opponents.

The National Government Constituencies Development Fund Act 2015 came into effect exactly a year after the High Court on February 20, 2015, declared the former CDF Act unconstitutional.

However, there were changes in the CDF Act 2015 that removed health, water, and road projects from the fund and only restricted it projects under the functions of the national government.

The role of the MPs' was also limited to mobilising the public to prioritise development projects and forward the recommendations to their respective CDF committees, which would pick which ones to fund in a given financial year.

The lawmakers would yet still play their oversight role over the committees without the powers of giving directions.

In their judgement on August 8, the five-judge-bench led by Chief Justice Martha Koome ruled that the CDF Act violates the principle of separation of powers and was therefore unconstitutional. A group of NGOs, led by the Institute for Social Accountability and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance moved to the Supreme Court claiming that NG-CDF was unconstitutional because legislators were involved in implementing taxpayer-funded projects, which is a preserve of the Executive arm of government.

Service delivery

The Supreme Court noted that a fund directed at service delivery can only be constitutionally compliant if structured in a manner that does not entangle members of Legislative bodies and Legislative bodies in the discharge of the service delivery mandate however symbolic.

The CJ, her deputy Philomena Mwilu, Justices Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung'u, and William Ouko ruled that such funds ought to be integrated and subsumed within the structures of either the county executive or the national executive.

The High Court had declared the Act unconstitutional in 2015 but Parliament moved to the Court of Appeal and had the decision reversed. The appellate court only declared some sections of the Act unconstitutional.

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