HomeLocal NewsChinamasa, Biti fight over poll funds

Chinamasa, Biti fight over poll funds

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FINANCE minister Tendai Biti and his Justice counterpart Patrick Chinamasa are at loggerheads over the raising of funds to bankroll the ongoing voter registration exercise and elections later this year, amid concerns that the tiff might worsen relations in the inclusive government and further delay the polls.

Report by Wonai Masvingise

Chinamasa at the weekend claimed that he had raised
$25 million locally to finance the mandatory 30-day voter registration exercise following the signing into law of the new constitution by President Robert Mugabe last Wednesday.

He claimed that he had previously raised $40 million for the referendum and $8 million for the mobile voter registration – money he averred was not disbursed in full to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the Registrar of Voters.

Chinamasa said he had lodged a complaint in Cabinet last Tuesday against Treasury’s “predatory” tendencies to divert funds for national processes. He added that Treasury was sabotaging voter registration and to a large extent the electoral process.

But Biti yesterday came out guns blazing, and rubbished Chinamasa’s assertions that Treasury had diverted some of the funds meant for the referendum and mobile voter registration. He said Chinamasa had no mandate to secure funding for voter registration and elections.

In an interview yesterday, Biti said Chinamasa had no mandate to raise funds on behalf of government. He said he had enlisted the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to bankroll voter registration and education.

“Chinamasa doesn’t secure anything. He is not the Minister of Finance. We are going to fund the voter registration exercise. Zec has put in a budget of $21 million and we are going to fund that,” Biti said, before verbally insulting the Zanu PF chief negotiator of the Global Political Agreement that culminated in the formation of the coalition government in 2009.

“If ever he said that at all (in Cabinet), then he clearly was inebriated. The country has one Minister of Finance and he is the one who raises money. We raised money for the referendum and now we are raising funds for the voter registration exercise. Our friends in the UN and others will come in and help us raise funds. He (Chinamasa) mustn’t speak about things that he doesn’t know.”

The latest fallout between the two ministers follows another showdown in February this year after Chinamasa blocked the UNDP assessment team from conducting a needs assessment audit in the country as a precondition for release of poll funds.

Chinamasa and his Zanu PF party insisted that election funds should be sourced internally. The party has accused the UNDP of pursuing a regime change agenda through its demands for a needs assessment audit.

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