Govt allocates paltry $3m for by-elections

Treasury has approved a mere $3 million dollars for the June 10 by-elections, against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s budget of $28 million.

Makarau
Makarau

Sources told The Zimbabwean that this was likely throw the by-elections into disarray and expose the government’s decision to rush the by-elections when national coffers were almost dry.

There will be by-elections in 14 constituencies across the country following the expulsion of MPs linked to the MDC-T Renewal Team recently. Following the expulsions, President Robert Mugabe hastily proclaimed elections in the affected areas and the nomination court has already selected candidates.

These are predominantly from Zanu (PF) after the Renewal Team and MDC-T decided to boycott the polls in protest at the government’s failure to implement electoral reforms that would ensure a free and fair election.

“We have been given a mere $3 million. That is going to severely constrain our operations. There have been efforts to secure funding from other sources like the UNDP, but we don’t know if we will get the money,” said a ZEC insider.

Paltry amount

“The paltry amount means that we will have problems financing logistics, conducting voter education and paying allowances to election officers. Our main worry is that the small allocation given by the finance ministry will reflect badly on us.

“If the elections do not proceed properly, people will think it’s ZEC that is ineffective because that is the institution they will be dealing with directly. The truth, though, is that we are doing our best under these bad circumstances. There was no need to rush the by-elections,” he added.

ZEC is already seen as an inefficient commission that is biased in favour of Zanu (PF) and is alleged to be working under the guidance of Nikuv, an Israeli outfit accused of aiding poll rigging.

Rita Makarau, the ZEC chairperson, said she did not have the figures of the allocated amount and referred questions on the budget to the ZEC secretariat. However, efforts to obtain a response from the finance manager were fruitless as the commission’s landlines went unanswered on numerous occasions.

Makarau told The Zimbabwean: “I don’t think people must be seized with how much we are asking for in order to run the by-elections. The real issue must be about how much we have been given by treasury.”

She recently indicated that it would cost $2 million to run a single by-election, bringing the total to $28 million. Election watchdogs and independent analysts have queried the figure, saying it is too high.

Zimbabwean elections are considered to be among the most expensive in the southern African region. ZEC is still struggling to pay election officers from the registrar general’s office who participated in the March by-elections in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mount Darwin West. ZEC requested $2.144 million for these two by-elections but only got $1.473 million.

In February, Makarau admitted that ZEC owed officers who helped in previous elections while the commission’s secretariat was struggling to pay employees’ salaries. The finance and economic development ministry allocated ZEC $853,700 under the 2015 national budget.

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