Matibenga says she only missed the deadline to send CDF returns to Constitutional Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry as she was busy with civil servants salary crisis for the past month.
On Wednesday Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Eric Matinenga named 10 MPs including two Ministers saying they face arrest after failing to account for money given to them under the CDF. He said his ministry had since approached the Anti-Corruption Commission and the police to investigate the matter.
Speaking to Radio VOP on Thursaday Matibenga said she did not steal the money but admitted that she missed the deadline to submit the CDF returns only.
“I did not steal the CDF funds, what happened is that, I only missed the deadline to submit returns as I was busy with the civil servants salary crisis the whole month of January. I finally sent my CDF returns to Minister Matinenga this past Monday,” said Matibenga.
Matibenga added: “I don’t blame Minister Matinenga for mentioning my name among those who allegedly embezzled CDF funds because he had approached me before about this issue, but I couldn’t submit everything in time as I was very busy. “I know those who don’t like me, were now happy but I am very clean”
The other lawmakers who have who were named together with Matibenga for failing to account for CDF funds are National Healing Minister Senator Sekai Holland (MDC-T, Mabvuku-Tafara constituency), Deputy Health Minister Douglas Mhombeshora (Zanu PF, Mhangura), Marvellous Khumalo (MDC-T, St Mary’s), Peter Chanetsa (Zanu PF, Hurungwe North), Chindori Chininga (Zanu PF, Guruve South), Naison Nemadziva (MDC-T, Buhera South) , Abraham Sithole (Zanu PF, Chiredzi East), Franco Ndambakuwa (Zanu PF Magunje), and Lawrence Mavima (Zanu PF Zvishavane-Runde).
The Constitutional Development Fund (CDF) was established by Finance Minister Tendai Biti, with all 210 MPs in the House of Assembly accessing US$50,000 for distribution to deserving projects in their constituencies.
But an MP who refused to be named said they could be off the hook for abusing the funds because there was no Act of Parliament that will pin them down to the criminal offence.
“Some of our colleagues did not submit returns on how they used the money as they cannot reconcile how they used the money. We were never given time to learn on how to administer the funds and everything was done in a haphazard manner,” said a Zanu (PF) MP requesting that he must not be named as he has no powers to comment.
An MP from MDC-T concurred saying that there was no legal instrument to arrest them. “From what I understand there is no legal instrument or an Act of Parliament that guarantees that defaulters can be arrested over the abuse. If political parties want to clear their names, they can easily blacklist them (the MPs) to contest in an election but according to parliament they are still free” said the MP.