24 July 2013

Zimbabwe: Chinamasa Says Zanu-PF Has Money to Fund Election

The drama surrounding funding for next week's election continued Wednesday with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa insisting that there was enough money for a credible election.

Chinamasa told state media that the government had secured funding for next Wednesday's poll, contrary to Finance Minister Tendai Biti's statements that more than $80 million was still needed for a credible process.

Biti has repeatedly said the government is broke and has no money and called for political will and cooperation from both President Robert Mugabe and Chinamasa to mobilise resources from the country's diamonds to help fund the elections.

"We don't have money for these elections, and everyone knows it. It's a horror movie except that you are not watching the movie, you are part of it," Biti told SW Radio Africa earlier this month.

Biti further stated that his efforts at securing funding from the international community were being undermined by Chinamasa and ZANU PF who were on a warpath with all potential donors, including SADC.

But Chinamasa told the state-run Herald newspaper that money was available, and that Biti was simply playing politics: "Where we are right now money has been found to run the elections," he said.

"The elections will be held on the 31st of July 2013 without fail. There is no problem about funding and thanks to ZANU PF which has been able to maintain an independent line to maintain the sovereign status of our country."

In a tacit admission that he was indeed sabotaging Biti's fundraising efforts, Chinamasa told the Herald that last week he shot down the finance minister's efforts to source funding from the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA)

According to the report, Minister Biti approached Chinamasa last week seeking his support to write a joint letter to elections and governance body EISA, seeking election funding.

But that request was declined, with Chinamasa saying ZANU PF will not allow foreigners to fund critical internal processes as this will be tantamount to surrendering the country's sovereignty.

"As you know EISA is not the source of the money but it is merely the face of the countries that imposed sanctions on us.

"So clearly I rejected it with the contempt it deserves and I did not understand why at the eleventh hour he (Minister Biti) would make such a request especially given the fact that we know how donor money is raised and disbursed," he said.

An earlier funding appeal to the United Nations Development Programme was aborted after Chinamasa went behind Biti's back and told the world body that Zimbabwe will not accept assistance that came with conditions, such as meeting civil society organisations.

Chinamasa would not say where the funds for the poll had come from, but his party, which has access to the country's diamond revenue, is also believed to have received substantial assistance from the dictatorial governments of Equatorial New Guinea, China, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Finance Minister Biti could not comment on Chinamasa's claims that funds had been found as he was addressing a rally when contacted.

Meanwhile, there is still no word from the government on whether polling day will be declared a public holiday, making it difficult for businesses to plan for the day.

A Public Service Commission official told SW Radio Africa that was yet to be made, but added that there will be an announcement on the issue "soon enough".

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