18 July 2008

Kenya: Graft Hampers CDF Projects

Nairobi — The impact of the Sh33 billion disbursed to the Constituency Development Fund since it was set up in 2003 is yet to be fully felt due to corruption, nepotism and impunity.

The CDF has failed to make a significant mark on the lives of the intended beneficiaries, a report by a non-governmental organisation says.

The report by Dr Wanjiru Gikonyo of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa says the idea of starting the fund was noble but impunity and lack of a redress system against members of Parliament, who managed the funds, had hampered the realisation of the fund's goals.

The report, developed into a popular handbook titled The CDF Social Audit Guide, spells out the people's role in CDF management, project selection, procurement process, project implementation, social auditing, offences and redress under the CDF Act.

Speaking at the launch of the handbook Thursday, the Parliamentary Committee chairman of the CDF, Mr Ekwe Ethuro, who is the MP for Turkana Central, urged MPs to complete projects started by their predecessors.

"I understand the predicament of my colleagues because it is unfair to polish the shoddy work of another person who had the mandate before you because at the end of the day, the people will identify him with the current MP's success," he said.

He said meaningful development would only take place with a devolved government where the President does not enjoy executive powers.

Members of civil society, scholars and panellists attending the launch said the CDF was drifting towards the same shortcomings of corruption, impunity and selfishness the Government is usually accused of.

Dr Winnie Mitulla of the University of Nairobi said a lot of money was disbursed but no meaningful results were evident.

She said capacity building to create a feeling of ownership among the people had not been enhanced by the MPs.

The chairman of the Kenya Economists Association, Mr George Ojema, said CDF had become a cash cow for MPs and their associates.

Mr Hussein Khalid, the executive director of Muslims Human Rights Organisation, said development priorities were not being decided by stakeholders but by selfish leaders.

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