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Zimbabwe Under Pressure to Reduce Elections Budget

Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti and his colleague Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, tasked by unity government principals to look for money from the donor community to help fund the general election and the forthcoming constitutional referendum, are revising downwards the country’s US$250 million budget for the two votes amid concerns from donors that it is unrealistic.

Harare recently appealed to the United Nations Development Programme for money to run the referendum and the general elections.

But U.N sources said the world body is asking for a revised budget. Government sources told VOA that budget proposals from the police and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission secretariat were too huge that Biti and Chinamasa are trying to reduce them.

Biti confirmed they are revising the budget though he declined to discuss the details.

Meanwhile, members of parliament Wednesday threatened to boycott campaigning for a yes vote in the constitutional referendum if they are not paid, adding to the government’s woes.

Electoral experts are also pointing at Kenya’s US$300 million budget as an argument that Harare’s budget is unrealistic.

Kenya which holds elections next month has a population of about 41 million and Zimbabwe has about 12, 6 million people.

Election Resource Center director, Tawanda Chimhini told VOA that the budget must be revised but, adds, it must not compromise the quality of the election.
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