By Tichaona Sibanda
On Thursday Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will hold a follow-up meeting with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to see how best the body can be financed to begin the voter registration exercise.
The meeting in Harare will be attended by ZEC commissioners, members of the secretariat, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede and several cabinet ministers. Senator Obert Gutu, the deputy Justice and Legal Affairs Minister told SW Radio Africa that the meeting is critical to ensure that ZEC can begin its work.
‘ZEC needs to start its mobile voter registration exercise and they need money for that. This is the reason why the Prime Minister is having another meeting with ZEC to ensure everything is sorted out on Thursday,’ Gutu said.
The deputy minister also confirmed that as of the 1st January 2013, all ZEC commissioners were working full time for the electoral body. Elections in the country are expected to take place later this year, possibly in June, after the expiry of the Global Political Agreement which gave birth to the inclusive government.
During the first meeting between Tsvangirai and ZEC at the end of last year, it emerged that the government revised the budget submitted by ZEC for both the referendum and the elections.
ZEC had budgeted US$220 million for the two events, but the amount has been reviewed down to US$192 million. The reduction in the budget was a result of the scrapping of the delimitation exercise, that was going to consume some of the financial resources.
The electoral body will now get US$85 million for the referendum and US$107 million for elections. According to a highly placed source, the referendum might be held at the end of February, if negotiations to complete the drafting of a new constitution are finished before the end of January. But Zimbabweans have already waited 3 years so there are no guarantees of anything.
Meanwhile there are reports that despite all political party’s moving towards an election, voter registration activists in most parts of the country are living in fear, following a clampdown by police to stop further registration of first time voters.
The deputy justice minister confirmed receiving such reports and said that first time voters pose a great danger to ZANU PF because most of them are unemployed and disgruntled and ‘very much stand ready to vote for change.’
‘This is why they’re reluctant to register new voters, they are trying to put spanners into the works to ensure we use the old voters roll in the upcoming elections.
‘What is clear though is that more new voters mean that ZANU PF will be staring at a massive electoral defeat engineered by young voters,’ Gutu said. SW Radio Africa