Juba, South Sudan,
May 15, 2021 — A senior official in the former Transitional National Legislative Assembly has called on the government to rekindle the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) initiative meant to help legislators facilitate developmental projects in their constituencies.
Speaking to Nyamilepedia from Juba Saturday, Paul Yoane, the Chairperson of the Information Committee in the former Transitional National Legislative Assembly said the CDF plan was implemented in 2011 after South Sudan attained independence.
In 2012, the initiative was halted after the government budget shrunk as a result of an economic downturn catapulted by tumbling oil prices in the global market.
But with newly-appointed legislators bracing to assume duties, Yoane said the government should revive the scheme to ease service delivery to constituents by their parliamentary representatives.
“We used to have the Constituency Development Fund but it was halted in 2012 when the country was hit by the economic crisis. But I think it’s the right time now for the initiative to be resuscitated,” he said over the phone.
The former Chairperson said without CDF the work of legislators becomes an uphill task as resources would be scarce to enable effective and efficient delivery of services.
“They [the legislators] need the money to build roads, schools, and even hospitals in their constituencies. So, the CDF is very critical to the performance of MPs because, in the end, people want to see what they have achieved during their time in office,” he elaborated.
At least 550 Members of Parliament were appointed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit last week after dissolving the previous parliament. The number has sparked criticisms from the South Sudanese public.
In a country of 13 million people with 171 constituencies, at least 379 of the 550 MPs would have no constituencies to represent. The current National Legislative Assembly’s building has just 300 seats, almost twice fewer than the number of newly-appointed legislators.
Despite acknowledging the voluminous number of legislators, Yoane defended the parliamentary setup saying people should not focus on the number but instead on what they have to offer.
“The parliament is big, yes, but the public should understand that this is a result of a compromise made by parties to the revitalized peace agreement so that there should be lasting peace in the country,” Yoane said.
“They should not be mindful about the number of legislators, they should be mindful of the services they are going to deliver, this is why I am talking about the revitalization of the CDF,” he added.
Asked about the incapacitation of the parliamentary building to accommodate the number of legislators, Yoane said if the parliament becomes overwhelmed, the assembly decides to conduct business at any facility it deems fit without restriction.
The reconstitution of parliament was one of the many outstanding tasks in the implementation process of the revitalized peace agreement.
Sheikh Vitale Aligo Samson, the Deputy Chairperson of the South Sudan Civil Society Alliance challenged the incoming MPs to compel the government to forge security arrangements and the graduation of unified forces, the two most contentious tasks threatening the success of the peace deal.
Vitale also called on the legislators to set the country on the path of constitutionalism and democracy with a major emphasis on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.