— The government says it will embark on a massive voter registration exercise next month as it starts preparations for a constitutional referendum and elections sometime next year.
But officials said it will depend mainly on when the new draft constitution is finalized.
The plan to register voters came out of a meeting organized by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and attended by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Zimbabwe Electoral Commissioners to discuss preparations for the forthcoming referendum and elections.
Minister Chinamasa told journalists after the meeting that they also discussed how the government would pay for the two events.
Chinamasa said they agreed to commence a "voter registration blitz on January 3, and also agreed that attempts will be made immediately to raise $21 million."
The meeting resolved that Finance Minister Tendai Biti would be responsible for raising funds.
Chinamasa’s deputy, Obert Gutu, said the prime minister assured them that government would provide most of the funds required for both events.
Gutu said Mr. Tsvangirai and the other principals will meet next week to discuss the issue after which Chinamasa and Biti would meet to discuss the funding details.
"The money is going to come from government, this government is not as broke as people might think, the right honourable minister did promise ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) and all of us present that the events are going to be largely funded by government," said Gutu
Meanwhile, ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe said the organization has slashed its referendum budget from $100 to $85 million.
Although President Robert Mugabe has insisted that elections must be held in March next year, Chinamasa said the dates for both the referendum and the election depend on the completion of the constitution-making process.
A committee tasked to resolve contentious issues has deadlocked but is set to meet again Monday to try and break the impasse.
Report By Irwin Chifera