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Tight Zimbabwe Budget Threatens Parliament's Constituency Development Fund

  • Gibbs Dube

Parliamentary sources said only about half of the country's lawmakers have accounted for such funds, raising concerns they may have been misused

Zimbabwean parliamentary sources said Monday that government fiscal tightening could jeopardize an often-criticized program which allocates $50,000 to each House of Assembly member for development projects in his or her constituency.

Several parliamentarians said Treasury officials have informed them the program is likely to come under the axe as the government struggles to fund civil servant pay rises.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said constituency development funds are looking increasingly uncertain. He noted that many lawmakers have not accounted for their 2010 grants. “But I think the number is less than 100 legislators since most of them recently attended parliamentary workshops on budgeting,” Matinenga said.

Matinenga said fiscal tightening has wrought havoc in a number of programs.

Parliamentary sources said only about half of the country's lawmakers have accounted for such funds, raising concerns they may have been misused. VOA has reported on a number of constituencies where locals are deeply disenchanted with the program.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti was not available for comment.

Innocent Gonese, parliamentary chief whip of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said legislators were expecting US$60,000 apiece this year to help them improve life for their constituents.

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