Polls: Zim seek foreign funding

HARARE - Zimbabwe government is approaching the international community to bankroll this year’s watershed elections.

President Robert Mugabe and his coalition partner, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, have already ordered Finance minister Tendai Biti and his Justice counterpart Patrick Chinamasa to take the begging bowl to the world.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Biti said the country, which is operating on a shoe-string budget, cannot afford to fund elections on its own.

“The government is failing to meet its target for elections. Last week after paying civil servants we only had $217 in government coffers. We will be approaching the international community for funds,” said Biti.

Biti said the country, which has vast mineral resources, should chip in.

“It is not fair to approach the international community only, as a country we should also pull our weight, thus government money should also go into the elections,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the body mandated with conducting elections, is demanding $192 million to finance elections and a referendum to be held in March.

Biti said the figure is unrealistic.

“In my capacity as the Finance minister I am appealing to Zec and related organisations to come up with realistic budgets as we can hardly afford the elections,” said Biti.

Although a date for elections is yet to be announced, Biti said Tsvangirai’s MDC prefers a general election in July before the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) meeting in August.

Meanwhile, Biti, who is also the MDC secretary-general, has dismissed reports of factionalism in the party.

Tsvangirai’s MDC is a cocktail of trade unionists, former student leaders, academics and displaced commercial farmers, creating breeding ground for dissent. - Ndakaziva Majaka

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