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Zimbabwe Still Struggles to Fund Election Only Few Weeks Away

With just 19 days to go before the elections, Finance Minister Tendai Biti says Zimbabwe is still struggling to raise enough funds to run the poll, charging he has not received a single cent from the sale of diamonds this year.

But President Robert Mugabe told his party supporters in Mashonaland Central on Thursday that Biti has the money and is refusing to release it to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu was not available for comment.

Biti said he has released about US$40 million of the US$132 million that ZEC needs for the July 31 vote, saying “but we are far away from reaching the target”.

Biti said Mr. Mugabe has not responded to a letter he wrote to him to discuss election funding.

ZEC sources told VOA that they are buying election material in a piece meal fashion. ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau was not available for comment.

Biti on Thursday said Harare has approached four Southern African Development Community nations for help.

But regional power house South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebhrahim Ebrahim said Harare must not approach Pretoria for assistance but SADC.

He said Harare has not formally approached his country for assistance.

Biti told VOA that he has been frustrated by Zanu PF in his quest to seek external funding.
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Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairman Solomon Zwana said without proper funding the election will be disputed.

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Regional neighbors in the 15-nation SADC brokered a 2009 power-sharing agreement between Zimbabwe’s main political parties after it ruled the presidential election run-off the previous year was void after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the race citing violence.

Violence before and after the elections led to the death of about 200 MDC supporters, according to Mr. Tsvangirai.