Biti on poll budget

Finance Minister Tendai Biti yesterday said Zimbabweans should not squander the peace the country is enjoying at the moment by rushing into elections.

Speaking at a post-Budget breakfast meeting organised by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Biti said if the country was to hold elections anytime soon the issue of security of the vote must be addressed.

“If Tsvangirai and Mugabe want elections by hook or crook they will have them, but we are not fools.Are they going to be sustainable? Businesspeople have been brutalised. This is an unfortunate country. We need healing as a country,” said Biti.

“It’s not about resources, whether I have budgeted for them or not. It’s about commitments that the principals themselves have agreed on. We will have to find the resources, but this time we will not raid your FCA accounts,” said Biti, in reference to the garnishing of accounts by the Reserve Bank.

The MDC-T secretary-general was reacting to queries why he did not make a specific allocation for polls next year.

In the $4 billion Budget announced on Thursday, Biti allocated $30 million towards the constitution-making process and conduct of the referendum as well as $5,5 million to the other constitutional commissions, including the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Biti said the African continent had witnessed chaotic developments in other elections in recent months, citing ousted Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to surrender power after defeat.

He said there were processes that would have to take place including coming up with a new voters roll and a fresh delimitation exercise, among other processes, before elections can be held.

“You can have an election tomorrow, but it can’t be a June 2008 election. Is there going to be integrity in the vote? Is the Electoral Act up to scratch? Is the electoral process going to ensure security of the voter? Is the election able to attract the people’s will?” Biti quizzed.

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