Cash shortage stalls voter registration blitz

HARARE - A voter registration blitz planned by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) missed its launch yesterday after government failed to avail cash for the exercise.

 Zec says it requires over $20 million for the exercise and government had pledged to release funds.

With the constitution-making process stalled because of disagreements between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s parties, the fragile unity government had agreed that there is need to adequately fund Zec for the body to carry out a thorough job.

Tsvangirai last month met Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of Justice and Legal Affairs and officials from Zec where all parties agreed to commence a voter registration blitz from January 3.

It was agreed at the meeting that principals should dig for cash to bankroll the exercise as well as the election programme, but by yesterday, Zec had not received anything  from Treasury.

Responding to questions from the Daily News, the commission’s acting chairperson Joice Kazembe said government had not given them any money for the exercise though she remained optimistic.

“No money has been availed yet for this programme but Zec does not anticipate any challenges. The purpose of the Zec budgetary item is to inform the electorate that the programme is coming and Zec will do so as part of its voter education mandate,” Kazembe said.

Before the meeting, Zec was demanding that Treasury sets aside $220 million for the harmonised elections and the referendum, but the body was forced to revise the figure downwards to $192 million.

Despite having been allocated a meagre $50 million in the 2013 national budget, Kazembe remains optimistic the commission would get additional funding to enable the country to vote for a new constitution before a fresh general election.

“We require $85 million for the referendum and $107 million for the elections,” she said last month.

“The figure has gone down because there are activities we thought would happen which are no longer going to take place.”

While in past elections, constituency delimitation used to chew the election fund, the often controversial exercise has been scrapped for next year’s polls to reduce costs. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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