The Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Hon. Erastus Uutoni, yesterday (7 December 2021) briefed Members of the National Council on the status of the Constituency Development Fund Bill, commonly referred to as the CDF Bill.
The Minister informed the Members that consultations by the Cabinet Committee on Treasury had been concluded and that as of July 2020, the Bill has made significant progress, refuting the perception by some that the Bill is now collecting dust and not being attended to.
Hon. Uutoni further stated that the Bill is at an advanced stage and is passing through all the necessary processes, after which it will be presented to Cabinet, and then to Parliament, where Members will then debate the Bill at length.
Chairperson of the National council, Hon. Lukas Muha noted that the refining process of any Bill is very important and is appreciated, as it will produce a good product that will serve the electorate. The Chairperson however added that too many disagreements and arguments will delay the promulgation of the Bill. “We are glad to have met to clear the air, because what is out there is far from what you presented,” said Hon. Muha.
Independent Candidate, Hon. Paulus Mbangu, with the concurrence of all Members of the National Council, expressed his gratitude for the consultation, and that there was no objection to what the Minister had presented. Hon. Mbangu echoed that all other matters relating to the Bill would be debated in Parliament at the appropriate time, after which he gave the Minister blessings on behalf of the Council to proceed with the process.
In concluding the briefing session, Hon. Muha urged everyone to ignore the background noise relating to the CDF Bill and focus on the importance of the CDF Bill, maintaining that it would make income generating projects possible to help the people on the ground. The Chairperson firmly reiterated that Cabinet indeed, had the full blessings of all fourteen (14) regions represented in the National Council to see the process through.
The CDF Bill was passed by the National Council to the National Assembly in 2015, but to date, it is yet to come on the floor of the National Assembly. The delay in the process thus necessitated the coming together of the two parties.
The Minister was accompanied by his deputy, Hon. Natalia Goagoses.
ABOUT THE CDF BILL
Once passed, the CDF Bill will become a historic Act of Parliament, as it will be the first piece of legislation to have emanated from the National Council. The CDF is aimed to empower the local communities at constituency level with resources to initiate and implement their own development projects as per their needs. This, the National Council believes, will provide targeted assistance to aid in the development of constituencies around the country by way of decentralising government projects, expediting service delivery and removing the bureaucracy that often slows down service delivery.
The Bill stipulates that the funds are to be equally distributed across all constituencies irrespective of population size and level of development, and will go towards activities such as boreholes drilling, provision of essential services, infrastructure development and maintenance, youth and sports development, community capacity building initiatives as well as activities relating to the safeguarding of the environment activities.
Currently, the law prescribes that constituency offices be funded through subsidy from the regional government. The Local Authorities Act 23 of 1992 (as amended in 2000) states that there shall be levies equaling 5% of the rates levied on all rate-able property, situated in Local Authority Areas for the benefit of the funds of regional councils. However, these funds are mainly for administrative needs such as salaries and not enough is left for addressing the development needs of community members on the various constituencies across Namibia.
Similar initiatives have been initiated in countries such as Zambia and Kenya and have proven effective in addressing the needs of the people.