9 February 2013

Zimbabwe: No Changes to ZEC Secretariat - Chinamasa

THE composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission secretariat will not be changed before harmonised elections expected this year and the matter is now a closed chapter, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said. He said in an interview yesterday that the three political parties in the inclusive Government agreed on the composition of the ZEC secretariat.

"There is no issue there and the noises which are coming out are coming from people who do not know what we have resolved in our meetings with the PM and other stakeholders," Minister Chinamasa said.

"We jointly agreed to the composition of the commission, its operations and also the secretariat through a transparent process and any noises will not lead to any changes. This is now a closed chapter."

However, this was disputed by MDC-T chairperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora.

Minister Chinamasa said there would be no further changes to the electoral body's secretariat unless the Commission decided otherwise.

This comes at a time when the search for money to fund the referendum and general elections has begun.

Minister Chinamasa and Finance Minister Tendai Biti wrote to the United Nations Development Programme appealing for US$250 million for the two processes.

It has since emerged that the money is much less than what is required as it excludes funds required by the police to carry out their mandate.

Minister Chinamasa said the electoral body was independent and should work without the influence of political parties.

"The commission has an ongoing exercise to decide on their issues, meaning it is up to them to decide who is competent or not.

"They can also fire and recruit staff depending on what they need. Just as what has been agreed, we are not going to entertain any further reforms be it in Zec or the security sector."

Mr Mwonzora accused Zanu-PF of appointing the secretariat "singularly".

"We agreed on the commission, not the secretariat.

"We want a replacement of the same secretariat that took more than six weeks to announce the Presidential results in 2008.

"If they do not change, then we can't reveal our tactics but these are some of the legal issues that have always exercised the mind of the facilitator (South African President Jacob Zuma)."

Minister Chinamasa said they had begun sourcing funds for the referendum and elections.

ZEC requires US$85 million for the referendum, while elections are expected to gobble US$107 million.

"I can confirm that as part of mobilising resources, we recently wrote a joint letter with the Finance Minister (Biti) to the UNDP with an initial budget of nearly US$250 million," he said.

"That's an initial budget. At the moment ZEC, my ministry and the finance ministry are interrogating that budget as other logistics have to be covered."

The police, Minister Chinamasa said, had submitted their budget, which they were still assessing.

"Police need logistical support to get to all the polling stations among other issues and they have put a cost to that," he said.

"I cannot disclose their amount, but all I can say is that we are also interrogating that budget and it means it becomes an additional expenditure to the money needed for the processes. We will write to them giving them the exact figure."

President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last month tasked Minister Chinamasa and Minister Biti to source funds for the referendum and elections from donors.

Government said the funds should come through Treasury for onward transmission to institutions that run electoral processes.

Parliament has adopted the draft Constitution, paving way for the referendum in which the political parties have agreed to campaign for a "Yes" vote.

The referendum will pave way for elections that would end the troubled inclusive Government that came into effect in 2009 after disputes surrounding the presidential elections held in 2008.

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