Govt intensifies drive to mobilise poll funds

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GOVERNMENT is crafting a new Statutory Instrument (SI) to enhance its capacity to mobilise funds for general elections expected mid-year after it managed to raise US$54,4 million for tomorrow’s referendum.

Brian Chitemba

Finance minister Tendai Biti met with the principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara this week to finalise the issue of funding for the referendum and elections.

The SI, being drafted by the Attorney General’s office, seeks to give government legal powers and authority to collect outstanding diamond revenue for 2012 from companies mining the gems in Marange.

The new law will enable government to immediately collect money for future diamond sales while also empowering the state to sell chrome stockpiles and mining concessions. The SI also seeks to capitalise on platinum and gold in a frantic bid to raise funds for the make-or-break polls.

Initially, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) came up with a referendum budget of US$85 million, but it was rationalised to US$73 million.

Treasury on Monday announced the release of US$31,5 million for the referendum and of this figure, US$20 666 320 caters for allowances while US$5 860 350 is for materials (indelible ink, ballot papers and ballot boxes), US$3 226 400 is for vehicle hire and US$1 746 930 for fuel. The outstanding US$41,5 million was further rationalised to US$22 878 690 of which US$13 631 990 would cover allowances, US$3 487 470 for materials while vehicle hire will gobble up US$2 827 330 and US$2 931 900 is for fuel.

From that US$22 million, Zec would receive US$8 877 620, the police US$12 400 000 and Registrar-General’s office US$1 601 070. Money for the referendum was sourced from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) and Old Mutual, each contributing US$20 million while the remainder was secured by government.

Government recently wrote to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) seeking US$$250 million for the polls. The UN Electoral Assistance Division team will be coming to Zimbabwe after government approved its trip to assess the situation.

“We would like to thank all the companies that contributed. We did our best under difficult circumstances and now we expect Zimbabweans to turn out in their numbers tomorrow to vote for a resounding yes. After what we have done, we hope the international community will come in to help us so that we can hold successful elections,” Biti said in an interview yesterday.

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