Mbabane: Only recently, in May, did the Regional Development Fund’s Coordinator, Cornelius Dlamini issue that the Fund would benefit 800 rural communities across the 59 constituencies despite the unwavering COVID-19 virus, yet, some Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed dissatisfaction in the delay by government in releasing of the Rural Development Fund (RDF).
The fund contributes to the development of the communities, especially in installing electricity.
Dlamini mentioned that in the four regions across the country 800 projects have been targeted as beneficiaries of the Fund and by June 8 they would have reached those communities in the various regions to engage them.
He said they had assisted in starting water projects where households get clean water, essential during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some beneficiaries have built mills, so that community members will access services within close range. Some have gone into the transport business where they purchased buses and minibuses while others have bought trucks and tractors, all for the purpose of conducting businesses.
However, despite that communities were said to be happy with the participatory approaches and the degree of community consultation for the infrastructure projects, parliamentarians felt that these wishes have not been achieved since the assumption of office by the 11th Parliament.
E67 million was envisaged by MPs to be a source of relief for them in dealing with the masses’ needs for development in their constituencies, which is deemed as nothing but figures.
Nkwene Constituency MP Philemon Vulimpompi Nhleko said the funding was an empty promise because there was no project that had been funded under RDF since it assumed office. The legislator said what he was certain of were two schemes that had been approved and were to benefit 80 homesteads.
“We have two electricity schemes that were to benefit 80 (65 and 15) homesteads. These schemes will also benefit many people as they will be able to initiate projects like welding and also tuck shops,” Nhleko said.
He said such projects would have benefitted his constituents a lot in the face of the coronavirus that has seen over 18 000 people, at some point, being on unpaid layoffs in the past five months since the country was declared to be in a state of national emergency.
The legislator said the availability of the funds would have resulted in some of the people within his constituency engaging in self-sustaining projects. His point was echoed by Zombodze Emuva Constituency MP Muzi Kunene who said he envisaged that about 13 000 people would benefit from the RDF if it were to be released as soon as possible. The benefits, he said, would be in the form of agri-business.
“The constituency seeks mostly water and electricity as mostly those are the applications we made when seeking the funding. However, to date, nothing has been offered,” Kunene said.
Also lamenting the lack of the funds was Hosea Constituency MP Bacede Mabuza who said seemingly there was no money to fund development.
Mabuza mentioned that last year, they were informed that there was no money while this year, figures have been thrown around with nothing being actually released to initiate the projects,” Mabuza said.
Nkilongo Constituency MP Timothy Myeni said his constituency was faced with the same problem, saying there was nothing that they had received.
He added that while many people were moving to rural areas due to the impact of the coronavirus, projects that were initiated in the past were still incomplete and stalling any prospects of venturing into new cash-generating schemes.
The legislator estimated that about 700 people would benefit from the fund in terms of sourcing electricity, as many homesteads were still without power.
In 2015/16, government had allocated E80 million to the fund, which was utilized to deliver rural electrification projects in various communities.
In 2016/17, the allocation was increased to E88 million. The current allocation is the biggest over the years.
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