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Funding for Hasty Zimbabwe Elections Still Elusive

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says Zimbabwe is still struggling to raise money for this year’s general election despite President Robert Mugabe’s hasty move to have the polls on July 31.

Biti says Harare needs US$132 million for the elections. “We are working on a budget of $130 million. We do not have this money at all. We have been doing a number of things and we are trying to engage the international community to raise this money,” said Biti.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Rita Makarau says the commission needs US$164 million to run a credible poll.

Government initially wrote to the United Nations Development Programme seeking US$225 million election assistance.

The initiative, however, fell through after Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, backed by some hardliners in his party, blocked a UNDP electoral assessment mission from coming to Zimbabwe to meet stakeholders, and checking the political environment before funding could be released.

But President Mugabe, having failed to secure funding from the Southern African Development Community and diamond revenue, is said to be contemplating appealing again to the United Nations.

Mr. Chinamasa could not be reached for comment as his mobile went unanswered. But Biti told VOA that the government is cash-strapped and time is running out.

Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court unanimously rejected a series of appeals on Thursday to delay a July 31 general election in order to allow more time for more reforms as demanded by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the regional Southern African Development Community.
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