Monday, August 05, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Chinamasa: Biti election cash pleas all lies
18/07/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

JUSTICE Minister Patrick Chinamasa has declared money has since been raised to fund elections due at the end of the month, dismissing as irresponsible political games claims by treasury colleague Tendai Biti that the election budget was facing an US$85 million shortfall.

Biti has consistently warned that funding the elections would be a challenge too far for the country’s sparse coffers and, early this month, said he was having nightmares trying to resolve a huge shortfall in the election budget, weeks before the key vote.

"We don't have money for these elections, and everyone knows it. It's a horror movie except that you are not watching the movie, you are part of it," Biti said last Tuesday.

COMMENT - Drama queen. Not an anti-gay joke, by the way, just a description of his ongoing behavior. - MrK

But in a clear sign that there is little cooperation between the coalition parties as the unity administration ends, Chinamasa said Biti could rest easy because the money was available although he would not reveal where it came from.

“We are ready, elections will be conducted on the 31st of July without fail,” Chinamasa said on Thursday.

“Already, all the elements, all the materials that are needed for that exercise are already there. The ballots are being printed, it is not that there is no money, the challenge was the printing capacity. Once that is taken care of, the ballots would be printed.

“The ink has been paid for and what may remain now is the logistics to deploy the ballots when they are ready to their respective polling stations.”

He accused Biti of playing political games by continuously pleading poverty.

“I do not go along with this singing of the blues about lack of funding,” he said.

“It is done for a purpose, to undermine our processes and the minister of finance should not be doing that, he should not use his official Government position to undermine another minister’s functions.

“He should be more creative. All the money that has been raised, I have been forced to almost act like I am a Minister of Finance to raise resources from elsewhere and tell him that there are monies coming to your Treasury when in fact he should be doing that.

“But because of his partisan nature he has not been able to remain functional as Minister of Finance, instead he has decided basically to play partisan politics on national processes. That is wrong, however, there is no problem with our capacity financially or otherwise to hold elections on the 31st of July.”

Indeed, if the government is skint, the same cannot be said of the main political parties which appear to be facing no problems financing their massive campaigns for the crucial elections.

Thousands of supporters attending rallies addressed by President Robert Mugabe and main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, are always decked out in colourful party regalia at each campaign stop around the country.

And this week, a Zanu PF supporter is said to have died as hordes of people scrambled for free campaign t-shirts which were being thrown into the crowd at a rally addressed by Mugabe in Chitungwiza.

Meanwhile Chinamasa also told journalists that only 29,000 security services personnel out of the registered 69,000 had managed to cast their ballots during the widely condemned special vote carried out on Sunday and Monday.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) publicly apologised for the fiasco with a pledge that all those who failed to vote can still do so on Election Day.

“The ZEC sincerely regrets the inconvenience caused to members of the disciplined forces... to political parties and to the nation at large,” ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau.

Chinamasa said ZEC had done pretty well in the circumstances adding the special vote mechanism was flawed and would be scrapped if Zanu PF won the elections.

“All in all I think that ZEC did well in the circumstances,” he said.

“I would like to put the blame squarely on the flawed legal architecture of the Special Vote and for that flawed legal architecture on the Special Vote the blame should be put squarely on the negotiators, including myself, who negotiated this mechanism.

“I feel very embarrassed that when you put it on the ground when you try to implement it the practical challenges were clearly not thought through. If we had thought it through it would have been very clear that this was an impractical innovation we were putting into our law.”

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