THE July 31 poll date remains in doubt as Finance minister Tendai Biti yesterday disclosed government had no money in its coffers to fund the elections.
REPORT BY WONAI MASVINGISE
Zec is currently preparing for polls after President Robert Mugabe proclaimed the July 31 election date in accordance with a Constitutional Court (Concourt) ruling on May 31.
While poll funding could complicate matters, other political factors also have an effect as the Concourt is set to decide on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s application to defer the polls today.
In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Biti said the government was yet to secure the $130 million needed by Zec to enable the holding of the elections.
“We are working on a budget of $130 million. We do not have this money at all. We have been doing a number of things and we are trying to engage the international community to raise this money. We funded the voter registration process and the nomination court on our own, but we still require funds to hold the election,” Biti said.
He said he was having a hard time in trying to raise the funds as they were required as soon as possible to cater for the elections.
Asked if he would be able to raise the money by July 31, Biti said: “As the Finance minister, I am between a rock and a hard place. I am trying to move mountains; it’s like trying to squeeze water from a stone. The greatest impediment has been the cross-talk, fights-talk, mischief and dishonesty in government.
“People must be allowed to do their work.(Justice minister Patrick) Chinamasa has meddled too much in fund-raising activities, he is the Minister of Justice and we love him like that, he must not try to be Minister of Finance.”
Efforts to get Chinamasa to comment were fruitless.
Last month, Biti told members of the House of Assembly that he would accompany Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Augusto Salomão on a visit to regional countries to seek poll funding.
“Donors are ready to fund the election, but they want a clear, transparent mechanism of disbursement. No one wants to put hard-earned money from their taxpayers into an uncertain election. No one will put money into something that is going to fail,” Biti said.
Contacted for comment Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe said questions to the commission should be directed to the chief executive officer through an email to their public relations officer.
The commission was yet to reply to the e-mail by the time of going to print yesterday.