Tuesday, February 05, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Ministers clash over referendum funds

Ministers clash over referendum funds
Sunday, 03 February 2013 00:00
Tinashe Farawo

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa and his finance counterpart, Mr Tendai Biti, have clashed over the holding of a constitutional referendum with the former accusing the latter of failing to release funds for the preparatory stages of the poll for political reasons.

Last week, Minister Biti told The Sunday Mail in an interview that Treasury had released US$2 million for voter registration and education, both processes leading to the referendum. He said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) was, however, drawing up “unrealistic budgets”.

Zec tabled a budget of US$85 million for the referendum and US$107 million for the harmonised polls.

“We have released US$2 million to Zec and, you know, spending that amount is not easy,” he said.

“The other thing is that we are having problems with Zec as they give us unrealistic budgets. That kind of work does not need much (money).”
Cde Chinamasa hit back yesterday, saying his counterpart was merely playing politics to delay the release of the funds.
He also denied Zec was inflating its budgets.

“There is no money (that was released); he is playing politics! As you know, voter registration was expected to start on January 3. How ever, because there is no money, there is nothing happening on the ground,” he said.

“We have cut those budgets to the last cent. There is no money to even do the most basic things like pay allowances. People who will conduct the registration need allowances, accommodation and other logistical support.

“Not even a cent is there to do that. As I speak, no money has been released to Zec. Voter registration never materialised because of lack of funds.”

Cde Chinamasa said although Mr Biti was obligated to interrogate election budgets, it was incorrect for him to politicise the matter.

“I do not see anything wrong in people continuing to interrogate those budgets, but there will be everything wrong in politicising such things.

“Discrepancies are likely to be there, but you cannot have discrepancies of millions; it is not realistic.”

Zec acting chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe last week said the commission was yet to receive its allocation from Treasury.

“We are still waiting for the money. As soon as we receive that money from Treasury we will go straight to work.

“We are ready, but the problem, as you know, is about money.”
Zimbabwe completed its constitution-making process last month after inclusive Government principals resolved sticking points around the Draft Constitution.

The full Constitution Select Committee (Copac) subsequently adopted the draft last week.

The document is scheduled to be tabled before Parliament this week after which a referendum will follow.

Zec was expected to have begun voter education and registration in preparation for the referendum and elections.


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