Finance Minister Tendai Biti says funding for elections is looking hopeful, but uncertainty over Zimbabwe’s future is shrinking the economy.
Addressing a news conference in Harare today, Mr. Biti had good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange declined by 36.5 percent in April to about $23 million due to what the minister said was reduced foreign investor participation and a lack of capital to fund borrowing.
Mr. Biti blamed both on uncertainty over national elections expected to be called later this year.
On the elections, the minister had some good news. He said government had secured enough money for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to conduct a second voter registration exercise in line with the new constitution, adding that the cabinet today resolved that all schools will be used as voter registration centers while the voters’ roll used in the 2008 election will be used to inspect the roll.
Mr. Biti said government is still pursuing an election grant from the United Nations, despite resistance from the Zanu-PF leaders in government who said negotiations on election funding with the u-n had collapsed.
Biti said the treasury has also approached several countries, including the Southern African Development Community, with a request to help fund the poll. He announced that the European Union may also be willing to help if Harare formalizes a request.
Biti urged president Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to quickly resolve outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement to pave way for the elections and a return to a normal economy.
The minister also said that the country recorded a reduction in agricultural output in most crops as a result of erratic rainfall experienced this year.