5 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Chinamasa, Biti Still to Meet Over Poll Funding

JUSTICE and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa and his Finance counterpart Tendai Biti are yet to meet to map out modalities for engaging the international community to help fund the forthcoming constitutional referendum and elections.

Minister Chinamasa said in an interview yesterday that they were supposed to meet last week, but the meeting failed to materialise due to other pressing commitments.

"We will be definitely holding the meeting because funding for the constitutional referendum and harmonised polls is of paramount importance," he said.

"The US$2 million that has been availed by the Treasury to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is far too short of the budget and can only be adequate for purchasing the referendum ink and stationery."

ZEC has presented a budget of US$85 million for holding of the constitutional referendum and US$107 million for the harmonised polls.

Principals in the inclusive Government tasked Ministers Chinamasa and Biti to source money for the referendum and elections from donors.

The funds would come through Treasury for onward transmission to institutions that run electoral processes, especially ZEC.

The meeting between the two ministers is expected to come up with modalities to be used in sourcing the funds, just like what was done during the constitution-making process.

Minister Chinamasa said the shortage of funds would eventually scupper the referendum and polls.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo said it was imperative for the referendum to go ahead before the expiry of the term of Parliament in May. "We believe that there are some delaying tactics on the part of the Treasury so as to create a crisis upon expiry of the Parliamentary term without the referendum being held," he said.

"There is a need to act with urgency and seriousness in the fund-raising by Ministers Chinamasa and Biti."

MDC-T spokesperson and Copac co-chairperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said after completion of the constitution draft, they believed that the stage was set for a referendum.

"It is imperative that Government should make sure that the funds are available," he said. "We believe that with serious political will, harmonised polls will definitely be held this year."

Mr Mwonzora said the period of political posturing was over and there was a need for Ministers Chinamasa and Biti to work together for the good of the country.

Mr Mwonzora appealed for money generated from diamond sales to be channelled towards the referendum and polls.

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