Lawmakers mull changes to CDF Act after court ruling

Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo with other MPs during a press conference at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi on Monday. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo with other MPs during a press conference at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi in February 2015. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

Members of Parliament are planning to change the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) law just two days after the High Court declared it unconstitutional.

At least 40 MPs, led by CDF Committee chairman Moses Lesonet (Eldama Ravine), said they would change the CDF Act 2013 even as they appeal the Friday’s High Court ruling.

Justice David Majanja declared the CDF illegal and gave the national government 12 months to align it with the Constitution

“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,” said Mr Lesonet during a press conference at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi on Monday.

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

The Institute of Social Accountability (TISA) moved to court in 2013 on grounds that the CDF was unconstitutional.

The consolidated petition was filed by the TISA and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance. The petitioners 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.

A section of MPs met on Wednesday morning and passed a number of resolutions that include amending the CDF Act 2013 and backing an appeal at the Court of Appeal. The MPs said they would contribute the legal fees.

“We met this morning as representatives of 347 MPs and we want to assure the country that CDF is intact and old projects will continue. The CDF is here to stay,” said Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo.

“As MPs, we believe in due process of law. We shall appeal the ruling of High Court. We will explore all necessary constitutional amendment to ensure CDF is properly anchored in Constitution. CDF is second after M-Pesa in the way it has revolutionalised the lives of Kenyans.”

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

Mr Lesonet said one of CDF’s notable achievements was that it had increased the number of classrooms and teachers in Kenya.