Over 40 MPs rally to rescue ‘unconstitutional’ CDF Act

A resident of Muruguru village in Nyeri attends the handing over ceremony of Muruguru Police Post housing units in September. They were constructed through CDF. PHOTO | JOSEPH  KANYI
A resident of Muruguru village in Nyeri attends the handing over ceremony of Muruguru Police Post housing units in September. They were constructed through CDF. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI 

Over 40 Members of Parliament have resolved to amend the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) Act 2013 days after the High Court declared it unconstitutional.

The MPs, led by CDF chairman Moses Lesonet (Eldama Ravine) said they will also launch an appeal of the ruling at the Court of Appeal.

This followed a meeting Monday morning during which a number of resolutions were passed on ways to retain the MP-controlled fund.

“We want to assure the country CDF is intact and old projects will continue. The CDF is here to stay,” Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) said. “We shall appeal the ruling of the High Court. We will explore all necessary amendments to ensure CDF is properly anchored in constitution.”

The court on Friday, through Justice David Majanja, declared the fund unconstitutional and gave the national government 12 months to align it with the supreme law.

The MPs said they will approach the issue in a bi-partisan manner.

“CDF doesn’t belong to MPs but the people of Kenya. We know what CDF has done. There are millions of poor Kenyans who have gone to school through CDF bursaries,” engineer Gumbo said. “In fact, CDF is only second after M-Pesa in the way it has revolutionised the lives of Kenyans.”

Mr Lesonet said one attribute of CDF is that it had increased the number of classrooms and teachers in Kenya.

“All CDF projects will continue. Kenyans should not worry and there should be no cause for alarm that CDF projects will stall. We respect the high court ruling and that is why we will be appealing the ruling through the CDF board,” he said.

Mr Lesonet said should there be need to hire a lawyer, MPs will contribute towards the legal fees. He said the National Assembly was party to the CDF suit and will, therefore, act on behalf of the lawmakers in lodging the appeal.

The Institute of Social Accountability (TISA) first moved to court in 2013. A consolidated petition by TISA and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance sought declarations that the CDF Act No. 30 of 2013, which replaced the CDF Act 2003, violates the Constitution.

The fund, which constitutes 0.5 per cent of the national budget, has been in operation for the last decade and is disbursed to the 290 constituencies to finance and implement development projects.

The petitioners challenged the constitutionality of the fund on two fronts; the process leading to its enactment and the substance of the legislation including the nature, administration and management of the CDF.

They argued that the CDF Act contravened the constitutional principles of the rule of law, good governance, transparency, accountability, separation of powers and the division of powers between the national and county government and the public finance management and administration.

“As MPs, we will pass laws that will anchor CDF in law. The CDF is helping the poor. We will do everything to amend offending clauses. We want CDF to continue helping the poor Kenyans because it is the property of the poor,” Lesonet said.

“We stand together to defend the fund. It’s a matter of MPs and Kenyan Parliament not politics,” he added.

The Treasury allocated the fund Sh33 billion in the current budget and has proposed to allocate a similar amount in the coming financial year based on the Budget Policy Statement.