MPs must not handle developmental funds, say activists By Harrieth Mandari, The Weekend African, July 18, 2009 DOZENS of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) have vowed to take the government to court if the Parliament passes the Bill that will introduce the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). In a signed statement that was read to the media in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the CSOs claimed that the CDF is unconstitutional and will not help to develop the country in any way, shape or form. Article 63 and 64 of our Constitution stipulates that the function of the Parliament is to be a watchdog for the government and to make laws. The introduction of CDF means that MPs will be doing the government job, said Francis Kiwanga, Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC). The Fund is set to empower MPs to perform some development activities that they cant do now because of monetary constraints even though the people always look up to them in times of troubles. But CSOs are arguing that it is the duty of the government; Central and Local Government to take care of the peoples development needs, and MPs are just there to do the follow ups on the government. For Members of the Parliament to be involved in the CDF, that will be contrary to separation of powers as succinctly put in our Constitution. The job of MPs is to watch over the implementation and not implementing government programmes. If introduced, the CDF will vastly affect the workings of the Parliament and the Parliamentarians. How will the MPs be able to question the government while they will also be doing the government responsibilities? he said. Kiwanga said it is the opinion of the CSO and religious bodies that the money to be spent on CDF be sent to Local Government authorities, who are the competitive authorities when it comes to bringing development to the people. He said chances are that the money in politicians hands will be used much for political gains rather than developmental gains and will be in danger of being misused. The government expects to table the bill during the ongoing Parliament meeting in Dodoma, though the exact date for the tabling is yet to be known.