Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Fumes Over U.S.$ 30 Million Poll Cash

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has flexed his muscles, ordering the Finance ministry to immediately release about US$30 million for the roll-out of the delayed mobile voter-registration exercise.

A fuming Tsvangirai yesterday convened a tense 45-minute meeting attended by acting Finance minister Theresa Makone, Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe and Registrar-General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede to seek an explanation for the delays in commencing the crucial voter-registration process ahead of polls expected this year.

Tsvangirai's spokesperson William Bango said Tsvangirai was furious over delays of the voter-registration exercise that should have kicked-off on January 3.

"The PM is greatly concerned about voter-registration delays and the meeting was meant to fast-track the exercise," said Bango.

Tsvangirai instructed Makone to ensure funds for voter-registration are released without delay. This prompted Makone to also summon senior Finance ministry officials for an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon to ensure the required funds are disbursed to Zec and the RG's office.

Makone, who is Home Affairs co-minister, said the US$30 million required for voter-registration was available as Finance minister Tendai Biti told Tsvangirai Treasury had the funds before he went on leave.

"We agreed the process (voter-registration) should start as soon as possible and initial funding will be released immediately," said Makone. "We are looking at US$30 million and the money is available."

Zec, Kazembe said, requires US$8 million while the RG's office budgeted US$13,1 million to conduct the mobile voter-registration.

Prior to the exercise, Kazembe revealed Zec would require another US$1 million for an outreach programme to create awareness among Zimbabweans a week before the registration exercise is rolled out.

The RG's office has stated there are 5,5 million voters on the register and the voter-registration programme would give Zimbabweans a chance to "clean-up" the voters' roll by removing the dead from the list of eligible voters.

Zec says US$220 million is required to successfully hold a referendum and elections.

"We are frustrated because we require money to do the outreach exercise before the rolling out of the voter-registration exercise," said Kazembe. "As Zec, we are ready and all we want is the money."

Voter-registration is an on-going exercise throughout the year, but with polls expected this year, political parties want to ensure their supporters are registered.

The RG's office will conduct voter-registration under the supervision of Zec as provided for by law.

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