Election budget $50m short, but ZEC says ready regardless

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ZIMBABWE Elections Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba told legislators this Thursday that the poll agency is ready for elections despite having a $50 million funding shortfall.

The country is due to hold fresh elections between July and August this year.

Chigumba said government has committed to availing $98 million of the $148 million needed to bankroll this year’s harmonised elections.

She expressed confidence that non-governmental organisations such as UNDP would chip in with the balance as has become the norm.

“We did present a budget of $148 million to parliament and the treasury has committed to providing us with $95 million dollars,” said Chigumba to the Media Portfolio Committee.

“Quite clearly, we are in the process of continuously engaging with treasury and we do have other traditional funding partners such as UNDP and IFES and actually assist us with some of our funding deficits,” she added.

“We are very well prepared for the election, we have mapped out and budgeted for all our processes. We know where we are and where we are supposed to be going.

“We would like to assure the public that our preparations are well on course and well on board except perhaps for the sticky issue of the budget deficit which I am optimistic will be addressed shortly.”

Government has, in the past, emphasized the need for Zimbabwe to have full control of the electoral process. The commitment is however continually undermined by funding shortages.

During the last elections in 2013, there was a $36 million funding gap which was bridged by development partners such as UNDP.

Meanwhile, quizzed on electoral reforms, Justice Chigumba said it was the duty of stakeholders to push for change around issues which affect them during elections.

“Our proposal (relate to) those sections of the electoral act that at present affect our administrative preparations for elections,” she explained.

“Civil society organisations, I don’t speak for them, but I do believe that they made their own representations to the minister… you are the lawmakers and politicians; you actually have more power than us.”