CDF is a sinking ship, appeals notwithstanding - The East African

CDF is a sinking ship, appeals notwithstanding

Saturday March 14 2015

In 1999, the Kenyan parliament moved a motion compelling the government to apportion a minimum of five per cent of the country’s total revenue towards developing infrastructure in all constituencies.

As a result of this push, in 2003, the government allocated 2.5 per cent of all revenue collected to the Constituency Development Fund. The impact of CDF was felt across the country, and most MPs spoke highly of projects made possible by the fund.

In 2003, the CDF Bill became the CDF Act. The Act was enacted to ensure that the government set aside at least 2.5 per cent of its ordinary revenue and channelled it to the CDF to be utilised at the constituency level.

For administration, a national CDF Board was established, supported by CDF committees at the constituency level. From a Ksh1.3 billion ($14.4 million) allocation in 2003/04, the amount has risen each subsequent year to Ksh33 billion ($367 million) in 2014/15. For 2015/2016, MPs are proposing a Ksh35 billion ($389 million) allocation.

These huge allocations without matching accountability led to a public outcry in 2009, which saw the creation of the CDF Review Task Force to review all aspects of CDF and improve its institutional framework.

Apart from the fund supporting well thought out infrastructural projects, it was seen by MPs as a reliable source of funds for their endless fundraising events to woo electorates come election period.

A major shortfall of the CDF is that it did not foresee the provisions of the new Constitution, especially where devolved functions and allocation of public resources to counties are concerned. Thus, it should not have come as a surprise that the fund was declared unconstitutional by the High Court. However, it was not scrapped in entirety — the court suspended the Act for 12 months for the defects to be fixed.

The court found the CDF Act defective in many respects: From the manner it was enacted, to the fund and the manner of its administration and application to its objective, design and implementation.

Specifically, it abuses the doctrine of separation of powers, violating Article 1(4), Article 174 on devolution by involving Members of Parliament in the planning, approval and implementation of the CDF projects. It also undermines some key national values and principles, including devolution of power, accountability and good governance.

The fund has similar functions to those envisioned by devolution, which have legal and constitutional standing.

The CDF is a sinking ship and given that it is unconstitutional, no amount of legal appeals can make it constitutional.

Geoffrey Kerosi
Economic and Social Rights Centre, Hakijamii
Nairobi

Kiswahili: Let’s all emulate Tanzania

It is sad that Africans have come to believe that not only are our parents’ languages inferior, we are also inferior beings.

Unfortunately, the post-colonial governments have propagated the same beliefs to the extent that generation after generation has come to believe that everything about the African is not only backward but has an element of evil.

The truth is that any language can be developed and used for any desired purpose.

If the only language that can bring technological advancement is English (say, for Kenya), how did France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia — countries that use their indigenous languages as official languages— join the group of eight (G8), the most highly industrialised nations of the world?

David Waihiga
Via email

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I entirely agree with Ken Walibora that African languages should be embraced.

He writes, “No nation, as Prof Mohamed Abdilaziz would tell you, has made tremendous steps in discovery and innovation by using the language of other people.” What about Latin for Europeans and Arabic in some parts of the world? English today also in Europe and other parts of the world? I guess there are some areas (like science) where foreign languages play a role that is constructive.

Nina Berman
Ohio State University

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