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‘Zec funding challenges a threat to democracy’

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BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

INADEQUATE funding to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is a threat to democracy as it impedes electoral processes, an independent elections watchdog said yesterday.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) chairperson Andrew Makoni told NewsDay that government should increase funding to the electoral body so that it effectively carries out its mandate.

In the 2021 national budget, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube allocated $2,3 billion to Zec, which translates to only 19% of the $12 billion that the commission had requested for its electoral activities.

Independent election watchdogs, the opposition and parliamentarians argued that the figure was too little.

In December 2020, Zec warned that it might not be able to run by-elections unless government released $12 billion which it required for the exercise.

“Budgetary constraints are always an impediment to electoral processes and this has been a perennial challenge. Zesn has over time lobbied for the timely and adequate funding for Zec to be available. These are documented in numerous reports and statements we have released in the past,” Makoni said.

“We have raised the same issues with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, which is the committee that oversees Zec’s parent ministry (Justice ministry).

“The committee periodically takes the matter up, and we have seen some progress on the matter. For instance, the allocation for the delimitation process was increased tenfold from $243 million to $2,3 billion. Budgetary constraints are always an impediment to electoral processes.”

In December, Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana told a post-budget consultative meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that there was need for enough budgetary allocations to the electoral body.

“We are very truthful when we say we need $12 billion instead of the $2 billion which is just a (tiny) drop of our budget. It does not help us much. What was allocated against the bid is only a total of 19%, hence our cry for the committee to assist the commission so that it will be able to realise its obligations,” he said then.

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