Honourable Minister of Urban and Rural Development Dr Peya Mushelenga addressing Members of National Council
|Story by Pamela Mate
Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Hon. Peya Mushelenga addressed Members of the National Council on the status of the Constituency Development Fund Bill (CDF Bill) that is yet to be tabled in the National Assembly since it was passed to the lower House in 2015. The meeting was as a result of the seemingly slow process that the Bill has taken since being passed in the National Council almost five years ago, thereby necessitating the line Minister to update the National Council MPs on what has been happening behind the scenes with regards to the Bill.
Hon. Mushelenga informed the MPs that the Bill should come before Cabinet through the Cabinet Committee on Treasury after which Cabinet would refer it back to the Cabinet Committee on Treasury for further scrutiny before the Minister of Urban and Rural Development consults the National Council and other stakeholders. Once consultations are done, the Bill would be referred to the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and then back to Cabinet for approval. However, as it stand, the Bill has not yet been considered by the Cabinet Committee on Treasury but is however expected to be on the agenda of the Committee in due course.
In their contributions to the engagement, Hon. Phillipus Katamelo stated that the delay may be due to a vacuum in the current processes on how a Bill from the National Council should be handled, seeing that the CDF Bill is the first of its kind. The MP from Omaheke region noted that there is no detailed process on what must happen as per the constitution or any other legislation, adding that this gap in the law requires a more detailed approach. Hon. Mushelenga echoed these sentiments fully, stating that the political heads of Parliament should perhaps jointly establish a way forward on such matters that are assured to represent themselves again in future.
Hon. Hilma Nicanor stated that Regional Councils are said to have “no teeth but are yet expected to deliver services”, adding that a Constituency Development Fund would make a great difference at community level. The Chief Whip of the Ruling Party, Hon. Lebbius Tobias thanked the Minister, stating that it was only after he became the Minister of Urban and Rural Development have they have seen the process of bringing the Bill into an Act of Parliament expedited.
Hon. Sipapela Sipapela noted that decentralization should be a common vision and goal for all in government in order for initiatives such as this to be well received, while Hon. Likando assured the Minister that there will be close monitoring of the funds from Regional Councils. Hon. Likando further noted that these monies will go a long way in relieving communities of emergencies such as fires that damage homes and extreme cases of poverty that require immediate responses. Hon. Weich Mupya from the Kunene region stated that while everyone waits on the Bill to be passed, that small budgets be allocated from the coffers of Regional Councils to constituencies to deal with community projects.
All in all, it was a fruitful engagement and Hon. Mushelenga said a lot has been done, but much more still remains to be done.
The CDF Bill is a historic Bill, being the first to emanate from the National Council. The Bill is aimed at empowering the Regional Councils and local communities at constituency level with adequate resources to implement development projects unique to each community. The passing of the Bill is essential to development as it will bring resources closer to the people. Currently, constituency offices are funded via subsidy from the regional government.