By Daniel Chigundu
Outspoken legislator and women’s rights advocate Thokozani Khupe yesterday clashed with Kuwadzana East legislator Nelson Chamisa in the National Assembly over the distribution of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
The government has secured about US$5 million which will be distributed as part of the US$50 000 CDF to 210 Parliamentary Constituencies.
Zimbabwe Parliament has 350 legislators, with 210 elected directly from constituencies in the country, while140 are elected through Proportional Representation.
Debating in the National Assembly on a motion to adopt the CDF constitution which was being moved by Honourable Chamisa, Khupe said it was wrong to leave out Proportional Representation members and Senators in the distribution of the fund.
“In the Standing Rules and Orders, it is clear that a Member of Parliament is a Member of Parliament regardless of them being Proportional Representatives (PR) or whatever.
“We are all Members of Parliament so this should be known clearly. So, when this money is distributed, it must be given to all the 350 Members of Parliament including the Senate,” Khupe said.
In his response, Honourable Chamisa said the fund is not being given to individual legislators but to the constituencies as outlined in the constitution.
“This Constitution does not seek to debate who is an MP or who is not, that is settled in the Constitution. MPs in this country are proportionally elected, elected via Senate and also in individual constituencies. So, the debate is not about MPs Honourable Speaker Sir. MPs are known and there are no lesser MPs or higher MPs than others, all MPs are equal.
“However, the debate on this one is not to do with who is an MP or who is not because what we have is not an ‘MP’s Development Fund,’ it is a Constituency Development Fund. If it is an ‘MP’s Development Fund,’ we must then go back to the Constitution and say, how do we define support to each and every MP.
“However, this is a Constituency Development Fund. If you go to Section 124, it is very clear…,” he said.
Chamisa added that proportional representation MPs and Senators will be included as ex-officio members of the constituency development fund management committees in their various areas.
Honourable Khupe who is a proportional representation MP added that while they are not against passing the CDF constitution, it must be noted that women are not happy.
“Thank you very much, Mr Speaker Sir. We are not against supporting this Bill, it is very important but what I want to be noted is that as women, we are saying as much as it is going to be adopted we have reservation because what we are saying is that there are 210 constituencies and within those 210 constituencies they are 60 women and 80 Senators. So, that must be noted that as women we have reservations,” she said.
Khupe’s views are also shared by other proportional representation legislators such as Melody Dziva, Fanny Chirisa and Lwazi Sibanda.