Nothing will stop our new CDF bid, vow defiant MPs

Thursday, November 24th, 2022 00:00 | By
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Members of Parliament have vowed to defy all odds to amend the Constitution to entrench the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).

They said they would not allow any individual or institution to stop their push to have NG-CDF aligned to the Constitution.

The process to entrench the fund started yesterday after MPs approved the formation of a joint, ad-hoc committee to amend the Constitution by parliamentary initiative to have various funds aligned to the supreme law. “Not even the courts will stop us from retaining the NG-CDF. This is between us, the people’s representatives, and any other individual out to frustrate the Fund,” warned Rangwe MP Lillian Gogo.

She continued: “The Judiciary should stop suppressing Kenyans in the name of defending the Constitution. We are the lawmakers; we know what is good and what is wrong.”

“The first amendment to the Constitution will be on economic empowerment. The NG-CDF must be amended to align with the Constitution. It’s the best thing we, as legislators, can give to the electorate,” said Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi.

The Supreme Court has since expressed itself by declaring the NG-CDF illegal, while the Treasury is yet to pronounce itself on the matter.

Gogo lashed out at the Judiciary for operating as if it’s from utopia by outlawing the Fund. “Our judges work as if they are not Kenyans. They should know that their poor relatives in the villages are beneficiaries of NG-CDF. They should wake up from slumber,” said Gogo.

President William Ruto has, however, publicly stated that he will support the reinstatement of the Fund.

In particular, MPs approved nine members to sit in the committee and co-opted two others, who will be joined by their counterparts in the Senate. Senators are also supposed to come up with nine nominees. Members of the ad-hoc committee include Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga, who will be the chairperson; George Murugara (Tharaka); Eckomas Mutuse (Kibwezi West); Edward Muriu (Gatanga); Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma); John Mbadi (nominated); Otiende Amollo (Rarieda); David Mwalika (Kitui Rural); and Kakai Bisau (Kiminini).

MPs Robert Gichimu Githinji and Stephen Mule (Matungulu) have been co-opted in the committee as they are the owners of the said proposals. The two, in their proposals, want the said funds entrenched in the Constitution to ensure the critical role the funds play in promoting development of national government projects and empowerment of vulnerable persons are safeguarded, as well as to ensure that the funds are not subject to abuse.

The ad-hoc committee is expected to, within 90 days, come up with a harmonised version of the Bill, which will encompass the NG-CDF Senate Oversight Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NG-AAF), and Economic Stimulus and Empowerment Fund.  This will enable Speakers to give directions on whether the legislative proposal is to be published into a bill.

Reform mandate

Leader of Majority Kimani Ichung’wa, while moving the motion, said the ad-hoc committee should facilitate collation of views from the comments by MPs during general debate, invite members with similar or related proposals to make submissions, invite, engage with, and consider submissions from stakeholders and relevant constitutional and statutory bodies with a law reform mandate. He said the committee is based on the need for a bicameral approach since the proposal cuts across the mandate of more than one team.

According to him, the move is in line with Article 256 of the Constitution on the process of amending the Constitution by parliamentary initiative, as well as Standing Order 114 (7A) of the Standing Orders.

Minority Whip Junet Mohamed said: “We do not want to go back to the old days where MPs used to rely on the President and the Deputy for handouts to fund development projects in their constituencies”.

Members of the National Assembly have been pushing to have NG-CDF fund entrenched in the Constitution after the Supreme Court ruled that the CDF Act 2013 violates the principle of separation of powers.

Senators, too, have been pushing to have funds set aside for their oversight roles in counties. They claim their counterparts in the National Assembly, including Woman Representatives, have been unable to play oversight roles in counties.

The proposed NG-CDF is to be a national fund comprising not less than five per centum of all the government’s share of revenue, as divided by the annual Division of Revenue Act, enacted pursuant to Article 218.

The Senate fund will be a national fund consisting of not less than one hundredth per centum of all the government’s share of revenue as per the annual Division of Revenue Act, enacted pursuant to Article 218.

On the National Government Affirmative Action Fund, whose main purpose is to complement the national government’s programmes on affirmative action, the proposals say it will consist of an amount not less than one quarter per centum of all the government’s share of revenue.

The aim of the Economic Stimulus and Empowerment Fund is to provide funds for programmes relating to empowerment of women, men, youth, and people with disabilities.

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