The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust in Mulanje has said the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is the most abused fund in Malawi.
NICE District Civic Education Officer Twambilire Mwabungulu made the observation at the District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting on Friday when he made a presentation on the Public Expenditure Tracking (PET) initiative the organization is doing.
“The evaluation that we did on how the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and the District Development Fund (DDF) are managed uncovered that the CDF was the most abused fund because of the political influence in the management of the fund,” said Mwabungulu.
He said an analysis and evaluation of expenditure reports and verification of procurement of reports uncovered a lot of irregularities in the way the fund was being managed.
“During our monitoring visits we uncovered for instance that there was little community participation in the decision making progress of project identification despite guidelines clearly outlining that the community has to be engaged in project identification,” said Mwabungulu.
He said the political structures in the project management were delaying project implementation and had also resulted into ghost projects that were syphoning government money year in and year out.
“The outcome of using political structures in the management of the CDF has been loss of government money through substandard work, or in the worst scenario money going into the same project year in and year out,” said Mwabungulu.
Commenting on the PET findings, District Commissioner for Mulanje Charles Makanga said the CDF was a very sensitive program and the DCs had little control on the way funds under the program are managed.
“In principle, the DC has control over the fund but in practice we don’t have power over the way the funds and projects are managed, this is not a problem of Mulanje alone,” said Makanga.
He urged the civil society organisations to create more engagement with the communities and enlighten them on how they can hold their elected representatives accountable to government funds.
“The money that is being abused is government money, this is taxpayers’ money and we all have a responsibility to make sure that the funds are put to good use,” said Makanga.
The CDF concept was borrowed from Kenya where it has also had its controversies.