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European Union Ready to Fund Zimbabwe Electoral Process

The European Union (EU) says it is willing to help fund Zimbabwe’s electoral processes as the cash-strapped unity government considers introducing new mining taxes to raises money to pay for this year’s crucial polls.

The EU spoke as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) admitted today that it is reeling under a severe financial crisis to pay for the voter education exercise.

The EU’s top diplomat in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Aldo del’Arricia told a news conference that the EU is willing to fund elections expected to be called sometime this year. Harare, however, has not requested any election funding from the EU nations.

Harare recently withdrew its $132 million election funding request from the United Nations after the Zanu PF side of the unity government expressed concerns over conditions set by the world body, including media and security sector reforms, arguing the UN wanted to interfere with the country's internal politics.

Zanu PF wanted the money but without conditions.
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Following Harare’s refusal to accept terms set out by the UN, Zimbabwe has not been able to start its voter education campaign ahead of the crucial polls.

ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau, told reporters that the electoral body does not have enough resources to fund the voter education programme which is running concurrently with the mobile voter registration exercise.

Makarau said about 25,000 new voters have been registered since the mobile voter registration exercise started on April 29.
She urged all eligible voters to ensure their names are on the voters’ roll to enable them to exercise their right to vote when elections are eventually called.

As election talk gathers momentum, del’Arricia said the EU is closely monitoring the human rights situation in the country ahead of the polls following Tuesday’s arrest of two scribes from the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper and the recent onslaught on civic society organizations.

Meanwhile, the ZEC said election observers that want to monitor the polls can start submitting their applications to her commission once the election dates have been proclaimed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi is on record saying observers from countries that imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and some senior Zanu PF officials will not be invited to monitor Zimbabwe’s elections.

But Makarau said the minister can only recommend to the commission who should be accredited.

It was not immediately clear whether the unity government would accept election funds being offered by the EU or whether there would be some conditions tied to the support.