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Sticker Shock as Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Pitches US$88M Referendum

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Electoral Commission Chairwoman Joyce Kazembe said this week that her organization needs some $US30 million to build capacity and $US88 million to run the referendum some say could be held in November

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it will need nearly $US120 million to bolster its operational capacity and conduct the referendum on the new constitution which some say could be held as early as November of this year - though a draft is not yet ready.

Electoral Commission Chairwoman Joyce Kazembe said this week that her organization needs some $US30 million to build capacity and $US88 million to run the referendum.

She made the comments during a ceremony accepting vehicles, computers and other equipment provided by the United Nations Development Program.

ZEC officials say the government has not adequately funded the commission, and that if it plans to schedule a referendum or elections it will have to come up with funding.

But Finance Minister Tendai Biti told VOA on Friday that the government does not have that kind of funding, adding that the electoral commission has presented his ministry with cost figures that are too high. Biti told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that ZEC presented his ministry with a budget of US400 million dollars to conduct the next elections

The finance minister said that that the 2012 budget he will present in mid-November will allocate only $US30 million for presidential and general elections.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said the Electoral Commission must strike a balance on costs.

She told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that donors will provide funds to help the agency build capacity, but the government must cover referendum and election costs.

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