— Zimbabwe's request for over US$225 million dollars from the United Nations Development Program to fund the forthcoming constitutional referendum and general elections has been referred to the UN's Department of Political Affairs at it's headquarters in New York.
In a statement released in Harare, the UNDP acknowledged receiving Harare's request on Februray 6.
In a letter to UNDP resident representative Alain Noudehou dated February 4, Finance minister Tendai Biti and Justice minister Patrick Chinamsa had revealed that Zimbabwe only has “a combined budget of US$25 million yet the two processes are currently estimated to be in excess of US$250 million.
“On behalf of the government of Zimbabwe, we formally request UNDP for assistance in mobilizing resources to cater for the funding gap for both the constitutional referendum and general elections,” read the letter.
The statement says, “As per the UN guidelines on electoral support, the request has been transmitted to the UN Focal Point on Electoral Assistance at headquarters.” The UN Focal Point will then review and respond to the request and advice on steps that need to be taken.
Biti and Chinamasa HAD also called for the setting up of a formal structure between government and the UNDP. “It is our hope that a formal structure in respect of the referendum and elections between yourselves and government be set up similar to the project board that dealt with the constitution-making process.”
Tawanda Chimhini of the Election Resource Centre told VOA that the UN must also provide technical assistance to ensure a free and fair election.
According to the United Nations itself, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and head of DPA is also the focal point for electoral assistance by the United Nations,” evaluating requests from Member States and ensuring consistency in the delivery of assistance by the various U.N. agencies and departments involved.”
This the UN says is a “growing area of responsibility and expertise, as elections occupy an important place in peace processes and political transitions aimed at ending bloodshed or at establishing or restoring democratic governance.”
Zimbabwe is yet to proclaim dates for the consitutional referendum and general elections both expected to be held this year.
Interview With Tawanda Chimhini