MPs accused of turning kitty into slush fund

A former CDF employee in Webuye West told The Standard that a lot of money goes to waste because it is used by the fund managers for personal projects.

"It is true that they lead lavish lifestyles, while MPs also use it for patronage as they seek re-election. Some officials have been taken to court but nothing changes," she said.

MPs gain political mileage by dishing out cheques at highly publicised meetings across the constituencies.

Complaints have been raised on how bursaries are disbursed in areas that voted for the MPs' opponents.

Although projects funded by the CDF are supposed to be selected by a committee established in each constituency, there are often complaints about interference by MPs.

MPs were buoyed by President William Ruto, in his inaugural speech in Parliament, when he urged them to ensure that NG-CDF becomes constitutional through a parliamentary initiative.

"I know the contribution CDF has had in making life better for our citizens. I know the difference it makes is monumental and I believe there is a way CDF can be aligned to the tenets of the Constitution," Ruto said.

Pundits argue that it is the politics behind the fund that is fuelling the clamour for its reinstatement.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo is among the vocal MPs who are demanding the reinstatement of the kitty because of its success story.

He told reporters that his constituency was distributing Sh33 million bursaries to needy students before NG-CDF was stopped.

"Where will I get that money? When they don't want MPs to get that money, it is ordinary Kenyans who suffer," he said.

Political analyst Herman Manyora thought otherwise and tweeted: My advice to the president: "Recall all the CDF funds and channel the same to the newly formed Coronavirus Fund.

"MPs will easily misappropriate the money in the guise of coronavirus mitigation. We need this money to assist the poor with food and shelter, in an organised manner," he wrote.

Researcher Machiko Tsubura explains that CDF which has spread across developing countries, mainly in Asia and Africa since mid-1980s, can be characterised as a distinctive form of social development because MPs are vested with a degree of authority in selecting projects.

Tsubura noted that MPs have been controlling the distribution of CDF funds because of the authority they enjoy in appointing the committee members.

"It is a double-edged sword because if MPs use the funds particularly well it helps them get re-elected, but if they handle them improperly, it will be a reason for being voted out," he wrote.

In 2010 when the country promulgated a new Constitution, there was talk of the CDF structure being reviewed and integrated into the budget allocation of county governments.

Yet, in January 2013, the CDF was not abolished but its Act was amended to make it consistent with the new Constitution.

It redefined the roles of MPs regarding fund management, restraining them from chairing the CDF committee and becoming ex-officio members.