Monday, August 05, 2013

(HERALD ZW) Biti backtracks on election funding
Thursday, 18 July 2013 00:26
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti has backtracked on his pledge last year to liquidate US$100 million from the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights to fund elections as MDC-T continues attempts to frustrate the holding of elections on July 31. In an interview published in The Sunday Mail of July 1 last year, Minister Biti pledged to set aside US$100 million to fund the elections from the US$500 million Special Drawing Rights Zimbabwe received from the IMF.

However, when contacted to comment on poll funding yesterday, Minister Biti claimed he never made the SDR pledge.

“I never said that. It is not possible to do that (finance elections) because the SDR’s are a monetary instrument, not a fiscal instrument. They are meant to provide a buffer to our foreign currency reserves. It was not proper when we used them to fund our capital projects.” he said.

Minster Biti said the SDRs were meant to act as a buffer in the event a country faces liquidity challenges to finance its imports.

MDC-T has been on a spirited campaign to frustrate the holding of elections on July 31 by among other things delaying funding of the process, flooding the courts with litigation to cripple the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s preparations, outright sabotage of the preparations and lobbying Sadc to pressure President Mugabe to defer elections, among other things.

The AU Peace and Security Council meets on Friday to, among other things, discuss a letter written by the MDC seeking poll postponement at a time AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has made it clear no organisation could second guess the judicial decisions of member states.

The MDC-T campaign against elections has been blamed for the chaos that characterised Special Voting for uniformed forces and civil servants who will be on duty countrywide on polling day.

Having come unstuck on all fronts, it appears funding is the MDC-T’s last card since its secretary-general, Mr Biti, oversees the finance ministry in Government.

However, in his interview with The Sunday Mail last year, Mr Biti clearly said the money had been set aside.

“The SDR was a mere US$500 million. The only money that is left is $100 million, which we cannot use because we do not know what will happen if the political leaders say they want an election,” he said then, responding to a question regarding the disbursement of the allocation then.

“There has to be a contingency plan and Government understands that.”
The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves.

Meanwhile Minister Biti said an additional US$10 million will be released this Friday to ZEC for the elections.

“A further US$10 million will be released on Friday for the elections. We continue to run around we are not sitting on our laurels and we have identified a number of measures that I cannot disclose now to ensure we raise the required amount,” he said.

ZEC had budgeted US$130 million to ensure a smooth running of the elections and with some of the processes already covered, a source close to developments said US$60million was outstanding.

Treasury has so far released US$38, 5 million towards elections processes.

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