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Zimbabwe finance minister: no cash for early polls

By Sapa-AP | Mar 15, 2012 | COMMENTS [ 4 ]

Zimbabwe's finance minister said that elections can't be held this year as the president wants, because there isn't enough money available.

Minister Tendai Biti told reporters Wednesday his ministry only has cash for a nationwide census in August and a referendum on a new constitution scheduled around the same time.

President Robert Mugabe has called for elections this year to end a fragile three-year coalition with the former opposition of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The coalition was formed in 2009 after disputed and violent elections in 2008.

The finance ministry is controlled by Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party under the power-sharing deal.

Mugabe has insisted that "money has to be found" for elections to go ahead this year, with or without a new constitution. Tsvangirai says elections can only be held after constitutional and election reforms are complete.

Mugabe, 88, has been nominated by his ZANU-PF party as the sole presidential candidate in the proposed elections.

Biti on Wednesday likened the census and the referendum to elections, in terms of expenditure.

"We have provided money for a referendum and also going to have elections in the form of a census," he said. "So we are going to have two elections. We can't afford a third election."

The finance ministry was this year promised $600 million from the sale of diamonds, but Biti says he has so far received just over $19 million.

"Diamonds have to deliver...we are being crippled by their under-performance," Biti said.

Government employees have embarked on series of strikes this year over pay demands that Biti insists can only be met by improved payments into state coffers from diamond revenues.

Rights groups have also expressed concern that the unaccounted-for diamond revenue could be used by Mugabe's party to finance violence and intimidation in the proposed elections. They have accused diamond mining companies of lacking transparency and accountability in their operations.

Since the military, loyal to Mugabe, took control of the diamond fields in 2008, using troops and helicopter gunships to remove villagers and small-scale miners, Zimbabweans with diamond interests have bought luxury cars and opulent homes.

The boards of the mining companies include executives who are retired and serving police and military officers.

COMMENTS [ 4 ]

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Whatever...

Mar 15, 2012 10:12 | 0 replies

This is sneak preview of where are headed if we don't hold our own government accountable. Mugabe was able to hold on to power because of lack of opposition by the time there was any serious opposition Mugabe was prepared to k--ill to stay in power. Our own liberation movement is not far from reaching this state, and as they deplete the coffers of the state through corruption, we too will have the IEC announcing that there is no money for elections. What happens when there is no money for elections? Those that finished the money remain and continue to eat whatever is trickling in. SA consider yourself warned voting ANC out in the next election does not mean we cannot vote them in in the next one hoping that they would have learnt their lesson. For now they are taking the electorate for granted. So qpc it is not "Whatever" this is a preview of SA in the next 10 years

Mar 15, 2012 11:58 | 0 replies

And there is SA fools who support this mugabe idiot.

Mar 15, 2012 1:16 | 0 replies

hehehe, you are playing with fire wena Minister,when Mugabe say jump,you can only ask how high,don't tell him that there is no money

Mar 15, 2012 1:49 | 0 replies