The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it has submitted a $274 million funding proposal to enable the southern African country to hold polls next year, a development seen loading more debt on the struggling economy.
“The responsibility of funding for the whole electoral process lies with the Government of Zimbabwe. A consolidated budget requirement has since been submitted to Treasury for funding in the sum of $274 million,” ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.
Makarau said ZEC is confident that Treasury would avail the funding as it has funded all the past by- elections. Latest available figures show that government overspent by $230 million in the first quarter of this year after gobbling $1,1 billion against revenue of $869 million, signalling accelerated expenditure ahead of the polls.
Treasury has projected a budget deficit of $400 million this year after overspending by $1,4 billion last year — from an initial projection of $150 million. President Robert Mugabe’s government is heavily borrowed on the local market to the tune of $4 billion and owes international lenders $7 billion, most of it in arrears.
Makarau also said Treasury had funded the acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits. The country is for the first time using BVR system and will establish a new voters’ roll ahead of the polls. The system uses of unique individual identification techniques such as fingerprints and iris to identify voters.
Previously, voters just used their national identification documents to register.
ZEC is expecting to register about seven million voters ahead of the elections. The ruling ZANU-PF party has already endorsed Mugabe, who will be 94 next year, as its candidate. Mugabe could face a packed field of opposition leaders, including his long-time nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party with whom he formed a coalition government disputed election in 2008.
Mugabe’s former deputy, Joice Mujuru, who was sacked from the party in 2014 for allegedly plotting to unseat the long-time ruler, former ministers Nkosana Moyo and Tendai Biti are also likely to contest the polls.
Makarau said Laxton Group of Companies, which operates out of China, South Africa and the United States, has been awarded the tender to procure biometric voter registration kits (BVR), which will be delivered to the commission in the next three months.