THE government will next week launch a campaign to register eligible voters, a key first step to organising crucial elections planned for later this year, a cabinet minister said Thursday.
Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections to pick a successor to the power-sharing government formed four years ago by veteran President Robert Mugabe and long-time rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The announcement of the registration campaign came after the cash-strapped government released funds for it.
"Yes, treasury has released $8 million dollars to enable mobile voter registration to take place and the excercise is expected to begin next week," acting Finance Minister Elton Mangoma told AFP.
He would not give details on the campaign, referring further questions to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who was not immediately reachable.
The electoral roll has been a subject of contention, with Tsvangirai's party alleging it was stuffed with millions of ghost voters who were used by Mugabe to rig elections.
Mugabe and his allies want the elections as early as June but Tsvangirai insists on reforms first to guarantee a free and fair vote.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the country needs $132 million for the elections. But that kind of money is just not available in the state coffers for the election.
There are now plans to try to source funds locally and possibly turn to international organisations if there is need for additional funding.
But earlier this month the government withdrew a request for funding from the UN following disagreement on the size and mandate of an assessment team from the global body.
Biti had last month complained that voter registration was underfunded and inaccessible to many citizens, adding the roll needed thorough sanitisation.
Two thirds of the six million voters on the roll are dead, claimed Biti, pointing to irregularities with the crucial list.