Zimbabwe needs R1.8bn for elections

2011-10-19 13:04

Harare – Zimbabwe needs $220 million (R1.8 billion) to hold a constitutional referendum and fresh elections at dates yet to be set, a state daily reported today.

“We came up with a budget we submitted to Treasury and as long as we get the money we are ready to roll,” Joyce Kazembe, deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, told The Herald newspaper. “We have already trained our officers.”

The coalition government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, formed in 2009, is preparing to hold a constitutional referendum for a new charter before fresh elections are held after the disputed polls of 2008.

But a lack of funds and disagreements among the parties in the ruling coalition has delayed the drafting process. Violent attacks, including one in which militant Mugabe backers killed a Tsvangirai supporter in an attack on a public meeting, have also disrupted the consultation process.

Negotiators from Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s parties are still discussing a roadmap to fresh elections, assisted by mediators from the Southern African Development Community.

Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has called for the overhaul of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission staff ahead of the polls, saying it is packed with Mugabe’s security operatives.

Mugabe, backed as his party’s next presidential candidate, had pressed for new elections this year. But he was rebuffed after Tsvangirai won regional support for insisting on more democratic reforms first. In September, 87-year-old Mugabe said elections would be held early next year.

The pair formed a power-sharing government to avoid a descent into full-fledged conflict in the aftermath of a bloody presidential runoff election, which Tsvangirai boycotted, citing violence that left more than 200 of his supporters dead.

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