The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Bill was channelled by the National Council to the National Assembly in 2015 as a means to empower the local communities at constituency level, with resources, to design and implement development projects with a positive impact for each community.
The Fund was to be established and administered under the discretion of a Constituency Development Fund board with funding from the central government as a means to decentralise the implement projects, removing it from the abundant red tape at higher echelons and putting such ability into the hands of those right at the grassroots to have more direct and expedient effect.
As per the Bill, the funds are to be equally distributed across all constituencies naturally, irrespective of location, population or stage of development.
The Bill provides strict guidance for the usage of the funds, and restricts its use for objectives that are community-based, with widespread benefits such as boreholes drilling, provision of essential services, design studies for development of infrastructure, sports and youth development-related activities, capacity building and environment activities, including waste management.
The list is inexhaustible.
As stated earlier, such resources will allow for expedient service delivery and allow for targeted assistance to aid in the development of constituencies around the country.
The passing of the Bill is essential to development, as it will provide ready and dedicated resources. Currently, constituency offices are funded via subsidy from the regional government, and the said funds are used for administrative purposes, such as salaries, etc. This leaves very little for the tackling of societal issues around. At a national level, there has been a suspension of many capital projects.
The Local Authorities Act 23 of 1992, as amended in 2000, part XV, Section 77 (1) states that there shall be levies for the benefit of the funds of regional councils, an amount equal to 5% of the rates levied under Section 73 on all rateable property, situated in Local Authority Areas. Section 77 (2) state further that the amount referred to in Section 1 shall be collected by a local authority council situated in the region of the regional council concerned in such manner as may be determined by the minister and paid over to the regional council on such date or dates as may be determined.
However, due to issues such as the general economic pressure, slow or non-payment of services by residents due to high unemployment, many towns and village councils around the country fail to meet the aforementioned levy for the implementation of such projects. Equally, the current model in the allocation of funds to both local and regional government has been widely criticised, as there is no set model but merely a thumb-sucked model.
Allocation of funds is not based on a needs basis. As a result, matters cannot be dealt with and plans for development are stagnated.
The creation of the constituency development fund (CDF) will make great strides in reducing income inequality, assuring all Namibians are granted access to equal footing and alleviate poverty. Initiatives of this sort have been initiated in other SADC countries such as Zambia and Kenya and are seen to be reaping great rewards.
It just requires that once passed, the custodians must ensure the facets of integrity, accountability and professionalism are their guiding pillars in the execution of the mandate of the CDF.
Therefore, in conclusion, this Bill, implemented in the true spirit of the letter, will stimulate development at grassroots and spur our nation of Namibia into becoming the economic powerhouse it has the potential to be.