8 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Govt Requests UNDP to Mobilise Funds for Polls

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who were tasked by the unity government principals to source funding for the referendum and general elections, have requested the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to help government mobilise close to US$225 million.

In a letter to UNDP resident representative Alain Noudehou dated February 4, the two ministers revealed Zimbabwe only has "a combined budget of US$25 million yet the two processes are currently estimated to be in excess of US$250 million".

"On behalf of the government of Zimbabwe, we formally request UNDP for assistance in mobilising resources to cater for the funding gap for both the constitutional referendum and general elections," read the letter.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had budgeted close to US$220 million for the two events, but the amount has been reviewed downwards to US$192 million. The reduction in the budget followed the scrapping of the delimitation exercise.

At least US$85 million is needed for the referendum, while elections would require US$107 million.

Biti and Chinamasa also called for the setting up of a formal structure between government and the UNDP.

"It is our hope that a formal structure in respect of the referendum and elections between yourselves and government be set up similar to the project board that dealt with the constitution-making process."

The UNDP played a crucial role by mobilising close to US$21 million towards the controversial four-year constitution-making process that gobbled up about US$50 million.

However, the request comes at a time the United Nations is appealling for US$131 million for humanitarian assistance to meet food, water and emergency needs in the country.

Noudehou said last month at least US$110 million of the money would be used to provide food for more than 1,6 million Zimbabweans facing starvation.

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