THERE is normally a fanfare at the distribution of Constituency Development Funds (CDF).
This is because the CDF is meant to address the development needs of communities around the country.
And one message is consistent at the distribution ceremonies of these funds and this is that ‘don’t forget to pay back’.
In today’s edition of the newspaper, we are carrying a story where as much as K1.8 million in the form of CDF grants was disbursed to as many as 90 co-operatives in Chingola constituency this year alone.
This is a huge amount and one can only hope that the money will get to improve the lives of the people in Chingola constituency.
The improvement of lifestyle in this case is not in the form of using the money for consumption but should go as an investment into a business. We take it the grants will work as a seed.
We expect some community needs to be attended to immediately.
Area Member of Parliament Chipoka Mulenga told the recipients that the money should not be used for beer drinking.
The MP’s fears may sound hilarious but when one looks at some stories coming from certain constituencies around the country about how the CDF grants have been misused, these fears are real.
We have written stories where beneficiaries have invested the CDF funds into some Ponzi schemes and have ended up scammed.
It has been two years since the CDF got a big revamp. There was another revamp last year and so many stories are still ongoing about the funds distribution.
It is time to take stock of the disbursed funds.
It is time for Zambia to be told of the success stories of the grants.
The revamping of the CDF is the tool the New Dawn Government is using to implement the decentralisation it promised the Zambians.
This means that some development projects that people previously waited on the government would have to be undertaken by the communities themselves through the CDF and the co-operatives.
This means the performance of the co-operatives would tell the direction that Zambia would take on its development path.
This fact is what should drive the beneficiaries to be above board and professional in the utilisation of the CDF.
A look at some developed countries shows that the economies are not driven by huge corporate companies but instead by the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
SMEs and micro/small businesses account for 99.7 per cent of all businesses in Japan. Japan, it must be noted, is the best economy in the world.
For the USA, the number goes right up to 99.9 per cent. These small businesses also represent 97.3 per cent of all exporters in the USA.
From this, it is easy to tell that it is the small businesses that drive successful economies around the world.
Those SMEs are the cooperatives we have in Zambia.