Nkhotakota South member of Parliament (MP) Greselder Jeffrey (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) has proposed an increase in the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from the present K12 million to K25 million as the fund facilitates transformative development in constituencies.
The legislator made the proposal during what will go down as her best and rousing speech in Parliament on Friday and a majority of her fellow MPs cheered her on.
She said the District Development Fund (DDF), which councillors oversee, has often proved inadequate as it has left many projects unfinished.
“But with the CDF, I have done a lot of projects in my constituency. I have completed up to 15 projects in my constituency… My plea to the Minister of Finance is that we need the CDF increased from K12 million to K25 million,” Jeffrey said, drawing applause in the House.
She called for unity among the MPs, saying that it is crucial in national efforts to overcome many socio-economic woes dogging the country.
In her speech, Jeffrey stunned her colleagues when she attacked some MPs who had earlier threatened to sabotage the passing of the proposed 2016/17 National Budget unless and until government provided them loan facilities, among other demands.
She said: “If we happen [to plan] not to support our budget because of various reasons such as loans and other benefits we have been advancing in the past few days, forcing the House to stop discussing issues of national importance, then know that we are heading nowhere as a country.”
But Minister of Information, Communication Technology and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati, who is Mulanje West MP (DPP), weighed in to set the record right by saying that by seeming to castigate the grass roots DDF, the MPs were reflecting poorly on themselves.
She pointed out that the DDF is a symbol of successful decentralisation and if the MPs cannot help the fund to become vibrant and successful, the legislators were undermining a key democracy and decentralisation structure.
Earlier, Kaliati also told fellow MPs not to point fingers at poor district council practices such as shoddy road projects and the controversial hiring of contractors. She argued that an MP worth his or her salt ought to challenge systemic problems and bring order to rural governance.