Some Zimbabwean ministers and lawmakers accused of failing to account for $50,000 in constituency developments funds have denied abusing the facility.
Public Service Minister Lucia Matinenga, Minister of State Sekai Holland and ZANU-PF lawmaker Edward Chindori Chininga were among officials embarrassed this week when Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said they failed to respond to an audit.
His announcement prompted a swift response from some of the accused, who say they were either late in submitting their accounts or had not yet used the funds.
Holland, senator for Chizhanje, which covers two separate parliamentary constituencies – Mabvuku/Tafara and Epworth - said she received the funds following the death of the legislator for the area, Shepherd Madamombe, in 2010.
In a strongly worded statement she said she had not yet used the funds, saying it took time to evaluate projects since she was not the representative for the area.
Holland said she is waiting for approval of the projects, which include improvements to a local clinic and construction of a 10,000-liter water tank at a clinic and library.
“Two officers visited me from the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs late last year to discuss the projects for which the CDF funds would be used. I told them that since being tortured on 11 March 2007, I need to go to Australia at least once a year for medical reviews and ongoing treatment," Holland said.
“I explained that I would be leaving Zimbabwe at the end of December 2011 and that the project implementation would begin on my return in mid-February this year. They did not indicate any deadlines for reporting on the use of the funds in that conversation or at any time subsequently,” Holland said.
ZANU-PF Guruve South legislator Chindori Chininga said he failed to submit the returns in time due to technical issues that delayed implementation and accounting.
Other lawmakers accused of failing to account for constituency funds included Deputy Health Minister Douglas Mhombeshora (ZANU-PF, Mhangura), Peter Chanetsa (ZANU-PF, Hurungwe North), Naison Nemadziva (ZANU-PF, Buhera South), Abraham Sithole (ZANU-PF, Chiredzi East) and Marvellous Khumalo (MDC, St. Mary’s).
Lucia Matibenga told reporter Violet Gonda that the minister responsible for the issuing of the funds was factually correct in stating that she had failed to file her accounts, but she objected to being labeled as an abuser of money meant for development.
“There were no written documents to alert us as to the deadline but when Honorable Matinenga approached me at the end of January that’s when it became apparent and clear to me that I should hurry and submit my papers,” Matibenga said.
Matinenga said she successfully utilized the funds she received for her Kuwadzana constituency, and through the use of those resources has constructed six boreholes and refurbished two others, and is building a clinic in her area.