MANY legislators are disguising donor-funded projects in their constituencies as theirs in a desperate bid to cover up the abuse of constituency development funds, a Government official has said.
Secretary for Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza yesterday said in some instances, legislators were sending Government auditors on "a wild goose chase".
The Government, she said, was wasting a lot of resources as a result of "unfaithful" House of Assembly Members' conduct.
"We are witnessing high levels of desperation where you see a lot of MPs attempting to show our auditors some projects funded by donors and other development partners as a way of shielding the misuse of funds," she said.
"It is only during the paperwork done on the audits that our teams discover that the projects were done by organisations such as Unicef among others. Others are also sending auditors on a fishing expedition.
"They visit various areas where the MP would have indicated to have done a project, but at the end of the day they are led nowhere and in the process Government resources are being wasted," she said.
Most legislators show the auditors boreholes, new classroom blocks, building materials, gardens and recreational facilities built by some NGOs.
Each MP got US$50 000 for constituency development.
Mrs Mabhiza said unaudited legislators should show auditors "real" projects to save time and resources.
"We have two teams that visit one constituency. First, our evaluation and monitoring team physically inspects the projects while the auditors come to do the paperwork. So, it is impossible for any MP to escape the audits.
"We are appealing to those legislators whose areas have not been visited to co-operate with the teams and not to lead them to nowhere."
Mrs Mabhiza said 134 constituencies were audited, with the number expected to reach 154 next week.
The country has 210 constituencies.
"The team is in the Midlands Province at the moment and we are expecting to cover 20 constituencies by next week," she said.
"When we finish, we are going to liaise with the Attorney-General's Office and the Anti-Corruption unit so that the MPs are brought to book."
The legislators face a jail term of up to five years if a Bill being concluded by Government sails through.
Government is making final consultations on the new law.
Those who assist the legislators to misappropriate the funds will also be held accountable and face a similar jail term.
Government has been failing to nail lawmakers who abused the funds as there was no law spelling out penalties.
Mrs Mabhiza said there would be no CDF distribution to the legislators this year because Treasury did not provide for CDF distribution in this year's budget.
So far, four legislators have been taken to court on allegations of misappropriating the funds.
MPs were the sole beneficiaries of the funds with senators being made ex-officio members in the administration of the funds.
Albert Mhlanga (MDC-T Pumula), Marvellous Khumalo (MDC-T St Mary's), Cleopas Machacha (MDC-T Kariba) and Franco Ndambakuwa (Zanu-PF Magunje), were early this year picked by the Anti-Corruption Commission and appeared in court.
Charges against Ndambakuwa and Mhlanga were withdrawn before plea and the State will proceed by way of summons when the dockets are ready.
Cases against Machacha and Khumalo are still pending.
Minister Biti allocated US$8 million for the CDF in the 2010 budget.