President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have asked the ministers of finance and justice to seek funds for the general elections and the referendum from donor agencies and other countries, saying Zimbabwe is cash-strapped.
Zimbabwe needs about $190 million for the referendum and general elections this year. The decision to allow Tendai Biti and Patrick Chinamasa to look for funds outside government coffers is set to cause serious friction in President Mugabe’s ZANU PF party that has been against foreign funding for the country’s political process.
Sources said the United Nations Development Program had previously approached Chinamasa, a ZANU PF minister, offering to fund and supervise the elections.
Britain has also expressed readiness to fund the elections road-map, still being drafted by the political parties in the unity government. But ZANU PF hardliners said none of the proposals are acceptable.
They accuse the UN of using its supervisory role in 2011 in Ivory Coast’s presidential election to side with Alassane Ouattara at the expense of Mr. Mugabe’s ally Laurent Gbagbo.
ZANU -PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and spokesman Rugare Gumbo are all on record saying their party is not comfortable with western intervention in the country’s elections.
Biti told VOA that the principals have given them the green light to start sourcing funds for the elections and the referendum, though, he adds, it would have been ideal to use proceeds from the country’s mineral resources to fund the two processes.
Director Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute said Harare must not outsource its elections and other political processes.
Meanwhile, activists are asking the government to quickly implement the pending voter registration program, saying the delay is having an impact on youth voters.
The Youth Agenda Trust said young people are frequently turned away from polling places as they are unable to furnish the necessary personal documentation.
Youth Agenda Trust program officer Lawrence Mashungu said it is time government moved to end the voter discrimination against the country’s youth.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s voter registration campaign is set to implement a decentralized process that will set up local registration centers, making it easier for youth and others to obtain documentation they need to vote.
Government officials are expected to meet on Thursday to approve the voter registration campaign budget proposed by ZEC. Once approved, ZEC will publicize their effort then carry out countrywide mobile voter registration and education programmes.