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MPs to challenge ruling on constituency fund



Over 40 MPs have resolved to challenge Friday’s High Court ruling which declared the Constituency Development Fund (Amendment) Act 2013, defective and unconstitutional.
The MPs who spoke after meeting with the Majority Leader in the National Assembly, Aden Duale, vowed to support bipartisan amendments which will entrench the devolved Fund Act in the Constitution.

National Assembly Committee on CDF Chairman Moses Lessonet said they will also lobby the CDF Management Board to appeal the ruling but says if need be, the National Assembly will file an appeal.

“This is what the judges didn’t understand; CDF is managed by a board which is a parastatal with a commission and a chairman (who are appointed by the president) … that is the organ that will appeal. As MPs, we will lobby it to move but if the MPs so wish they also want a lawyer to represent their constituents. I want to believe the MPs will be up to the task of raising money to be represented,” Lessonet stated.

MPs who attended the meeting are reported to have proposed each MP contributes Sh100,000 to facilitate the appeal.

Duale had over the weekend said that the National Assembly would expedite an amendment to align the Act to the constitution in the next three months.

At stake is the Sh38 billion which has been planned for disbursement in the next financial year which begins in July. The government had allocated Sh33 billion to the CDF Act in the 2014/2015 financial year.

Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo who read a statement on behalf of the MPs said they will not allow the gains that have been made through the devolved fund to be swept away.

“There are parts of this country where before the advent of CDF they never had a single girls’ secondary school. There are millions of children from poor and disadvantaged Kenyan families who have gone to school on account of CDF. In fact, in our view CDF is one of the powerful, innovative brands this country has ever seen. Accordingly, Parliament will handle this matter devoid of party affiliation,” he said.

The High Court on Friday declared the CDF (Amendment) Act unconstitutional, but gave the government 12 months to make the necessary amendments, failure to which it will be nullified.

In making the ruling, the three-judge bench said they had given the government one year to make the necessary changes, while at the same time allowing ongoing projects to be completed.

The court also noted that the grace period would allow for the budget cycle to run without being interrupted.

The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of the CDF Amendment Act of 2013.

Justices Isaac Lenaola, David Majanja and Mumbi Ngugi heard the case.

The petition was filed on the grounds that the CDF Act was undermining devolution by infringing on the principle of separation of powers and public finance.

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