Election budget under scrutiny

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s $274 million mammoth budget for next year’s elections continues to raise eyebrows, with the opposition and diplomats yesterday saying it is too hefty and has to be justified.

They argued that the budget is way too high compared to other African nations that are much bigger than Zimbabwe, which has a 13 million-plus population.

MDC national spokesperson, Obert Gutu, said he strongly suspected that the amount Zec had requested was highly inflated, comparing it with South Africa (SA) which has a population of about 56 million people.

“I strongly suspect that the Zec budget of $274 million to run next year’s elections is grossly inflated. 2016 local elections in SA were run on a budget of R1,2 billion...$274 million equates to around R3,5 billion,” Gutu wrote on his Twitter account.

Also questioning the budget was a Zanu PF seconded ambassador to Senegal, Trudy Stevenson, who asked why Zec was demanding so much.

“Yet Senegal election (same population) this month costs only $18 million — with 47 parties and coalitions contesting! Why the big difference?” she also said on Twitter.

“Cost of elections in Senegal (same population as #Zimbabwe) is FCFA 9 billion = $18 million. Zec wants $274 million for next year!” she added.

In a presentation before a Gender and Community Development parliamentary portfolio committee this week, Zec chairperson Rita Makarau said the $274 million budget was crucial to have a credible election.

“The responsibility of the funding for the whole electoral process lies with the government of Zimbabwe. A consolidated budget requirement has since been submitted to treasury for funding in the sum of $274 million.

“Zec is confident that treasury will avail the funding as it has funded all the past elections and the acquisition of the BVR kits.

“This is the funding that will enable Zec to procure all election material necessary and to pay all allowances necessary to ensure not only a successful voter registration exercise but a free and fair election in 2018,” said Makarau.

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