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Disbursing CDF empowerment grants in constituencies where by-elections are scheduled is compromising

The Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative says the act by the Ministry of Local Government to approve and disburse funds to the 260 selected applications for the Constituency Development Fund empowerment grants in constituencies where by-elections are scheduled has compromising effects on the provisions of the Electoral Code of Conduct.

GEARS Executive Director MacDonald Chipenzi said that the disbursement of CDF empowerment grants by the Ministry of Local Government under the constituencies in Ndola such as Kabushi, Bwana Mkubwa and Chifubu, five days ago and in the middle of campaigns also has the potential to be misconstrued as an act of electoral blackmail.

Mr Chipenzi has told Phoenix News that such government activities which are not emergencies can wait until after the elections which are a few days from now to avoid the influence of such activities on the voters.

He has since requested the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to be very active in all areas where by-elections are scheduled to detect and prevent corrupt activities and violence likely to be committed by candidates or political parties’ campaign teams.

Last month, Minister of Community Development and Social Services Doreen Mwamba said that the social cash transfer programme should not be politicized in response to the accusation made by the Patriotic Front Former Kabushi Member of Parliament Bowman Lusambo, who threatened to report her to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) if she goes ahead to distribute social cash transfers to thousands of poor people in Kabushi.

Mr Lusambo cited the move by Ms Mwamba as being aimed at influencing the outcome of the upcoming September 15th, 2022 By-Election as he insisted that taking advantage of the by-election to distribute cash payments is an act of electoral corruption.

But Ms Mwamba emphasized that her visit to the Copperbelt is not a campaign trail, but simply fulfilling her mandate of ensuring that social protection programmes are equitably distributed across the country, whether there is an election or not.

She added that the wheels of government should keep running with or without elections, as health services or schools are all running in Kabushi and social cash transfers are part of regular government services which should run as scheduled.

Ms Mwamba however reminded those accusing her of campaigning, that parliament being on a recess gives her an opportunity to monitor social protection programmes across the country as the Minister of Community Development and Social Services.

“Social cash transfer is paid every second week of the second month. (Bi-monthly), this is a routine payment schedule and Social Cash transfer by definition, should be timely and regular, therefore, it should be paid as scheduled without fail or any delay as doing so would make beneficiaries backslide into poverty,” Ms Mwamba explained

Ms Mwamba clarified that her job is to simply witness the systematic disbursements of scheduled payments by technocrats and not personally conduct the payments.

The Minister has however expressed disappointment in the manner some selfish individuals want to disadvantage by wanting to delay those that are supposed to get the funds all in the name of politics.

And last week week Ndola City Council announced that Kabushi Constituency will be among the beneficiaries when over K5, 000,000.00 is disbursed to Ndola residents through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) empowerment grants.

Council Public Relations Manager Rebecca Mushota said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has approved 260 selected applications for the CDF empowerment grants under the Kabushi, Bwana Mkubwa and Chifubu constituencies.

Ms. Mushota said the Ministry approved the 50 selected applications under Kabushi Constituency, 112 under Bwana Mkubwa Constituency and 98 under Chifubu Constituency bringing the total number of approved applications to 260.

The 50 beneficiary cooperatives under Kabushi Constituency are set to receive a total of K1, 944, 751 while the 112 beneficiary cooperatives under the Bwana Mkubwa Constituency are set to receive K1, 953, 200 and the 98 under Chifubu Constituency would receive K1, 940,000.

“Over K5 million is set to be disbursed to Ndola residents through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) empowerment grants. This follows the approval by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development of the 260 selected applications for the CDF empowerment grants under the Kabushi, Bwana Mkubwa and Chifubu constituencies. The Ministry approved the 50 selected applications under Kabushi Constituency, 112 under Bwana Mkubwa Constituency and 98 under Chifubu Constituency bringing the total number of approved applications to 260.The 50 beneficiary cooperatives under Kabushi Constituency are set to receive a total of K1, 944, 751 while the 112 beneficiary cooperatives under the Bwana Mkubwa Constituency are set to receive K1, 953, 200 and the 98 under Chifubu Constituency would receive K1, 940,000,” Ms. Mushota said.

Ms. Mushota disclosed that the total amount to be disbursed in Ndola so far as CDF is K5, 837, 951.

She said some of the community projects include construction of a wall fence, drainage, culverts, classroom blocks and re-gravelling of township roads as well as purchasing desks.

“The total amount to be disbursed in Ndola so far is K5, 837, 951.The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development also approved the 11 selected community projects applied under the Kabushi Constituency 2022 CDF worth K13, 326, 968.The community projects include construction of a wall fence, drainage, culverts, classroom blocks and re-gravelling of township roads as well as purchasing of desks. For Bwana Mkubwa Constituency, the Ministry approved the selected 11 community projects worth K13, 908; 000.The projects include construction of a police post, drainage, classroom blocks and community hall. The Ministry equally approved the 17 selected community projects under Chifubu Constituency worth K14, 415; 550.The projects include construction of a police post, a local court, market shelter and installation of street lights,” Ms. Mushota said.

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