Zimbabwe

Underfunded Zec likely to postpone 2023 elections

BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is likely to fail to run the 2023 harmonised elections due to gross underfunding, Parliament has disclosed.

This came out in a report on the 2021 National Budget by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice chaired by Makoni South MP, Misheck Mataranyika (Zanu PF).

The country is set to hold harmonised elections in 2023. Zec was also supposed to hold by elections this month after the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe recalled more than 32 MPs and several councillors countrywide aligned to the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa. However, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga barred by-elections citing COVID-19 regulations.

The committee report said Zec submitted a bid of $12,4 billion for 2021, but Treasury only allocated the electoral body a paltry $2,3 billion, leaving a variance of 81%.

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MPs also warned that if the 2023 elections were postponed, it would seriously damage the image of the country and set back economic and political progress.

They said new voters were also likely to be disenfranchised if Zec failed to upgrade its technology at a time when it expects to register around seven million new voters.

“Adequate financing of electoral management bodies is of paramount importance in thriving democracies. The very existence of legislators and senators is a direct outcome of this crucial process,” the report said.

“Financing of Zec may seem costly and competes for scarce financial resources with critical sectors such as education, health and defence. The funding requirements of Zec are a function of the electoral cycle and will vary hugely between election and non-election time. As 2023 approaches, the need for the adequate financing of Zec is beyond any reasonable doubt,” reads part of the report.

MPs said Zec needed $8,6 billion to carry out and conclude the delimitation exercise six months before the 2023 elections as stipulated by the law.

“The current appropriation of $1,744 billion is as good as seed money for the delimitation exercise that needs to be undertaken. The government has tabled amendments of the Census and Statistics Act so that the next census is conducted by July 31, 2021, and every ten years thereafter.

“Taking an average (US$15 per voter) and multiplying it by the voter population (7 million) as well as the auction exchange rate (US$1:$80) will yield a figure of $8,4 billion.”
The report also said that the outstanding 2020 by-elections had not been adequately funded and no provision had been made for 2021 by-elections.

NEWSDAY