Monday, April 22, 2013

UNDP refuses to back down on poll funds
Sunday, 21 April 2013 00:00
Kuda Bwititi

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is insisting on funding the forthcoming harmonised elections in a move that has raised eyebrows over its interest in the polls. This comes as the three-member Cabinet committee tasked with mobilising the funds is preparing to convene a crucial meeting this week to review strategy.

Last week, Government cancelled an earlier request for the UNDP to bankroll the polls after the UN agency refused to follow the stipulated terms of reference. Authorities said the country would work to meet the US$132 million poll budget using local resources.

However, the UNDP maintains it wants to be “invited to the party”. In a statement last Friday, the United Nations agency said it was still open to funding the plebiscite.

Part of the statement reads:

“The UN remains open to engage with the Government of Zimbabwe to determine if an agreement can be reached on the modalities that will allow the NAM (Needs Assessment Mission) to be conducted in accordance with the UN General Assembly resolutions.”

Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara, who chairs the Cabinet committee, told The Sunday Mail yesterday that UNDP funding was no longer necessary since Zimbabwe has the capacity to hold the polls using local resources.

He said his committee will meet in Harare this week to deliberate on its fund-raising mission. Other committee members are Ministers Patrick Chinamasa (Justice and Legal Affairs) and Tendai Biti (Finance).

“We do not need the UNDP anymore. We can afford to fund the elections on our own, and that is exactly what we are going to do. It is not proper for us to have foreigners funding our own internal processes and setting conditions for us,” he said.

“We are going to have a crucial meeting this week. After this meeting, I am sure everything will be in place for the committee to announce that money will be ready for the polls and how we intend to raise the money.”

Prof Mutambara would not be drawn into divulging the amount of money his committee has raised so far.

He, however, revealed that key mining and telecommunications stakeholders have already made firm commitments to fund the elections.
“What I can only say at the moment is that we have received firm commitments from the mining sector and the mobile phone sector.

“From the look of things, it is clear that there is going to be enough money for the elections.”

Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold harmonised presidential, parliamentary and council elections this year.

Initially, the Government approached the UNDP for funding, but the UN agency appeared to have been in no position to grant the request after receiving the application late.

The inclusive Government principals later set up the Cabinet committee to mobilise funds locally with the UNDP initiative being complementary. Government objected to the UNDP’s involvement after the agency set conditions that included dispatching a mission to “assess” the political situation in the country.

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