Zim targets Sadc, AU for poll funds

HARARE - Regional bloc Sadc, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are the most likely to fund Zimbabwe’s much-awaited electoral processes.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s top political advisor Alex Magaisa told the Daily News, Finance minister Tendai Biti now has authority from coalition government principals to borrow from external sources.

“As a country our thrust is to mobilise as much local resources as possible to fund our electoral process but in the event that we do not raise enough as has happened we will ask our partners to help.

“We will seek help from Sadc, AU and the UNDP. Minister Biti has been given the nod to apply for assistance from these institutions,” Magaisa said.

Curiously the UNDP which has been funding the constitution-making exercise has been under fire from Zanu PF hawks for pushing a regime change agenda through the draft document produced by a parliamentary select committee commonly referred to as Copac.

Biti confirmed that Principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) the basis of a unstable coalition authority presiding over the affairs of Zimbabwe had granted him authority to source external funding.

“We have met with the Prime Minister who has the mandate of the principals to oversee the electoral process and I can confirm that I have been given the government order to seek funding elsewhere.

“The government Blue Book (budget vote) has insufficient funds we had set aside for the electoral processes and now that we have been granted the authority we will be making applications soon,” Biti told the Daily News.

“We will soon be disbursing a million dollars to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for voter registration, so that there is some movement while we look for more funds.”

On the sticky issue of foreign observers, Magaisa said no institution has yet set this as a formal pre-condition to availing funds.

“We will come to that when it happens but as we speak no one has demanded that they be allowed to send observers as a pre-condition to assisting us. However, you will understand as I said we do not have enough of our own funding hence if any institution makes such demands, I would like to think that it will be a price we might have to pay,” he said.

Industry minister Welshman Ncube who leads a faction of the MDC, while confirming the principals had agreed to grant Biti the authority to borrow, said they had not discussed the issue of observers or monitors.

“Zimbabwean law does not provide for monitors, there can only be observers. As far as I know there has not been discussions regarding observers.

“However, I should hasten to say if as we understand it there is nothing to hide everybody should be allowed to observe our elections, including those perceived to be hostile to us,” Ncube said.

“There will always be governments and institutions that are hostile, some indifferent and better still others that are friendly to any government. The world does not operate on the basis of who you like or does not like. In fact it is to our advantage to invite those that are hostile to us for credibility purposes,” said Ncube.

While the UNDP has been a financial and technical partner to Zimbabwe’s constitution making process, hawks in Zanu PF including Mugabe have at one time or another declared their unwillingness to not only let foreigners fund Zimbabwe’s elections but also observe the process.

Sadc and the AU are the guarantors to the coalition government formed following a bloody one-man electoral runoff by Mugabe condemned at home and abroad in which Tsvangirai claims 200 of his supporters were murdered.

Last December, Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo insisted that funding would be made available at the “right” time, but could not say from which sources.

“We are not worried about what Biti said. Biti knows that funding is available. He is playing to the gallery and trying to show that he can influence when elections are to be held,” said Gumbo.

Zec requires over $200 million for holding both the referendum and elections.

Constitutional experts have argued it would be near impossible to hold elections by March as previously demanded by Zanu PF given Sadc’s insistence on a reform process that has been bogged down by constant bickering with parties sticking to their positions.

Mugabe and Zanu PF were forced to eat humble pie after their resolution to call for elections by Christmas if there was no agreed draft constitution was thrown out the window by a Sadc resolution in the same week that demanded strict adherence to the Global Political Agreement.

Biti argues Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu should remit diamond revenue for the process.

The Finance minister, said lack of transparency; accountability and looting of diamonds have made his job a nightmare.

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