Developing constituencies is not a role of an MP
Member of Parliament’s duties are÷
1) Law Making
Nowhere is an Mp duties are described as developmental agent.The parties, electorate and media have build up a perception of a Member of Parliament as a development agent.
All development projects require funding.The party, electorate and media have in most instances portrayed Members of Parliament as responsible for road repair, building schools, stock drugs at a local clinic etc. No one has educated the electorate where the money for road constructing expected to be done by Mp will come from!
The expectations of the electorate usually have pushed the voters to elect candidates who are rich over the poor or more capable candidates .The electorate vote expecting the rich candidate to bankroll road maintenance, school fees payment, stocking of drugs in the local clinics etc. After the rich candidate has won, he or she will not pump his or her money into the constituency. How many Mps have personal financial capacity to construct and tar a 20 km road? This has pushed a very wrong agenda and job description of Member of Parliament on developmental projects.
The Member of Parliament who would have been voted because he would have splashed lots of money and food handouts normally fail to excel on the true roles of Member of Parliament ie oversight, lawmaking & representation. His money would have parachuted him or her into parliament whilst he is incapable to execute his job.
A Member of Parliament must be measured on the three core duties of oversight, lawmaking and representation. Anything outside this must be considered as additional excelling Member of Parliament.
The Member of Parliament who does not contribute in Parliamentary debates must be considered sleeping on duty and shortchanging the electorate and his or her constituency.
Financing Development Projects In Constituency!!
A Member of Parliament has no budget allocated to him.The national budget understands that a Member of Parliament is not a development agent therefore does not need a budget. However, there is now the Constituency Development Funds ( CDF) introduced in the 2000s after a request by parliamentarians to facilitate developments.
It The National budgets finance the Member of Parliament’s core job key result areas which are Oversight, lawmaking and representation. Parliament to attend parliamentary sessions to make laws.
There is no obligation for government or Parliament to award Members of Parliament Constituency Development Fund.That is the reason the Minister of Finance is not by law forced to dish or allocate CDF to Constituencies every budget.
Influence On Development
Local government in their constitutional rights they are able and mandated to collect taxes.Local government council have developmental budgets.
The Mp has a duty to influence and convince local council to important developmental project in their constituencies.
An Mp has responsibility to engage government departments which are for developmental projects.On roads, borehole and others the MP can engage District Development Fund (DDF). It does not necessarily mean the MPs engagement with DDF will see the roads and boreholes in the constituency repaired. DDF does not take orders from an Mp.
Zesa, Zinwa, GMB etc are government departments an MP can engage to solve or develop the constituency. It must be known to the electorate in the constituency that after Mp has promised to engage government department if it doesnt react its not Mp’s fault.
The MP has to visit various Ministerial offices trying to engage , influence and to bring their attention to needs in the constituency. However it must be known that engaging various Ministerial provincial and district offices doesn’t mean the problem or project would be implemented. An Mp is not the boss of the Provincial Ministerial offices.
A Member of Parliament has the duty to engage and try to influence Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to direct development or initiate projects in his or her constituency. By engaging NGOs it does not mean its done.An Mp is not a policy maker of any NGO therefore his or her visit to their office is taken as alpha and omega of celebrating project kickoff.
Members of Parliament by failure to have a budget for development the government introduced CDF during the GNU era.The concept of CDF is a very positive development but the amount of money to make significant impact in the constituency is questionable.
A constituency has on average 10 wards.The CDF if awarded to each constituency about Rtgs$100 000 that means about Z $10 000 per ward.Surely what can an amount equivalent or less to a civil servant salary do in a ward.When the amount is announced as $1000 000 it sends frightening alarm bell and shivers in the electorate that huge amount of money would have been disbursed.
The Parliment and political parties have a duty to educate the electorate on the role of Members of Parliament role in developmental issues.
One issue which the Electoral Act must redress must be a Voter Education. ZEC should open up for various organizations to do voter education. Voter Education must be continuous not only to target election period.