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Zimbabwe Secures Funds to Conduct General Election

Finance Minister Tendai Biti
Finance Minister Tendai Biti says government has secured enough money to fund next week's elections but admits treasury does not have any money to pay civil servants who will conduct the polls.

Presenting his Mid-term Fiscal Policy Review Statement at a news conference in Harare on Thursday, Biti refused to shed light on the source of the funds although he admitted that the money was internally generated.

The finance minister said his department does not have “a single coin to pay officers who will conduct the elections countrywide on July 31.”

Government had set a budget of $132 million to fund the polls and extended a begging bowl to the Southern African Development Community, some individual SADC countries, and the international community, including the United Nations, but the request found no takers.

At the same time, Biti said in the event of a presidential runoff, Harare will not be able to fund the second round of voting because state coffers are empty.

President Robert Mugabe proclaimed September 11 as the runoff date in the event there is no outright winner in Wednesday's elections.

Biti said authorities would not have been cracking their heads over poll funding had there been transparency in Marange diamond revenue sale returns.

The caretaker finance minister last week said announced his ministry was investigating a case in which more than $400 million in diamond money had not been returned to treasury.

The minister said, “Not even a dime of diamond revenue was remitted to the national fiscus for the first half of the year.”

He added that as a result of political uncertainty, some companies were closing shop while his ministry has revised downwards economic growth projections due to the underperformance of key sectors such as agriculture and mining.

The Mid-term Fiscal Review Statement was supposed to be presented before parliament but Biti could not do so following the expiry of the life of the seventh parliament.

In light of next week's polls, Biti said he found it unnecessary to make any key economic interventions saying this will be done by a government that will be elected into office in Wednesday's polls.