President Tsvangirai, in his capacity as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, was today assured by senior government officials involved in the voter registration exercise that the process will start in earnest soon.
A total of US$13, 5 million has been made available for the voter registration exercise by the Ministry of Finance headed by the MDC Secretary General, Hon. Tendai Biti. Today's undertaking was made after President Tsvangirai met with the senior officials at his government offices in Harare where he was briefed on the challenges being faced in kick starting the process.
The voter registration exercise was supposed to start on the 3rd of January but was delayed after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) only submitted its budget to Treasury on the 2nd of January.
Today's meeting was called for after President Tsvangirai raised concerns over the delays by ZEC in commencing the voter registration exercise despite earlier commitments by the commission to do so.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Theresa Makone, who is also the Acting Minister of Finance, the Acting Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Nelson Chamisa, the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa and his deputy Senator Obert Gutu, ZEC deputy chairperson, Mrs Joyce Kazembe, the Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede and their respective senior officials.
Mrs Kazembe said ZEC understood the delays in kick-starting the voter registration exercise as the economy was not performing well and the government was not spared. All the senior government officials agreed with President Tsvangirai that the process should start immediately and Kazembe informed him that ZEC needed a total of US$13, 5 million to carry out the voter registration exercise.
Hon. Makone, as the Acting Finance Minister, assured President Tsvangirai that the funds for the exercise were available and that she was going to meet senior officials in the ministry to ensure that the funds were disbursed as a matter of urgency.
She said although voter registration has been happening throughout the whole year, it normally becomes intense during the run-up to elections and she urged all Zimbabweans over the age of 18 years to make sure that they are registered as voters ahead of the coming elections.
Zimbabwe is expected to go for elections this year.
The voter registration exercise, which will be carried out by the Registrar General's Office is expected to take 60 days and a total of 958 wards will be covered across the country. Voting in the next elections will be ward based. However, ZEC is now in full control of the whole process because it has the constitutional supervisory role. The RG's Office will only do the leg work but the buck for the whole exercise stops with ZEC.