Harare – Zimbabwe’s finance minister has said the country is still “far” from having enough cash to pay for elections due to take place in three weeks.
“We are far away from meeting the target, we don’t have the money,” said Tendai Biti yesterday, pointing to the election’s $132 million (R1.32 billion) price tag.
Zimbabwe’s general elections are expected to take place on July 31.
President Robert Mugabe will be looking to beat rival prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and extend his 33-year rule.
Biti – who is from Tsvangirai’s party – accused diamond firms of keeping back revenues from sales.
“I wrote to President Robert Mugabe and said, ‘Hey look, we need leadership on diamonds’,” said Biti.
He said the state was due around $150 million (R1.5 billion) in diamond revenues.
After thousands of Zimbabweans failed to register on the voters’ roll on Tuesday, Biti appealed to election authorities to extend the registration deadline until next week.
He also called on regional mediators the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene because key reforms in the security, media and electoral sector have not been implemented.
The SADC brokered the unity government in 2009 after deadly disputed polls a year earlier.
Now the bloc had to announce “whether or not it’s possible to have a legal, legitimate, credible and sustainable election,” he said.
Biti also alleged Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party had employed “notorious” Israeli company Nikuv International Projects to rig the vote by manipulating the voters’ roll.
“This company has been associated with election shenanigans in few dubious African elections and this is not acceptable at all,” said Biti.
“We are taking measures to ensure that their legal status is qualified and clarified because we know they have no legal status.”
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