REVELATIONS by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Rita Makarau that the ongoing voter registration exercise has only received US$500 000 out of a total requirement of more than US$8 million are as shocking as they are disturbing.
This makes a joke of the declaration that Zimbabwe is ready and gearing to go for elections, the latest having been made by President Robert Mugabe when addressing the Zanu PF central committee last Saturday.
The voter registration exercise is crucial if we are to have free and fair elections later this year. Without proper voter registration, millions of Zimbabweans could be disenfranchised of their right to decide who they want to lead them resulting in a flawed election.
That the whole government has only managed to put together less than a quarter of the money required for voter registration is a reflection of the dire straits we finds ourselves in.
Which is why it is baffling that the Zanu PF part of government is thumbing its nose at the United Nations offer of US$132 million to assist and expedite the electoral process.
The UN has requested to come into Zimbabwe and hold meetings with not only the government, but with other players such as civic organisations. This request irked Zanu PF and it turned down the request.
Refusing the much-needed aid for an election they are desperate to hold reflects badly on the country. Why deny the UN the opportunity to consult widely? What do they have to hide? The decision looks as if it was made just to spite the MDCs in the never-ending jostling for power.
Whatever the reasons, the country is now stuck without money to conduct the crucial voter registration exercise. The question is, if we cannot find money for the simpler task of registering voters, where will we get funds to carry out the harmonised elections?
The inclusive government, especially the Zanu PF part of it, should get off their high horse and accept the much-needed funding from the UN. They should know that you cannot ask for funding and then set conditions for receiving it. This would be a classic case of wanting to have your cake and eat it.
The government’s desperate move to slap new taxes on the fragile mining sector to finance the polls is evidence of a government in a whirlwind of confusion.
These stop-gap measures are not only an embarrassment, but also seriously short-change the electorate.
The government, especially the Zanu PF side, is cutting its nose to spite its face. The Zimbabwean electorate deserves a lot better than this!