Parly petitioned over Zec budget

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HARARE – An election watchdog has sought permission from Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to petition Parliament on the “meagre” budget allocation to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for preparations for the crunch 2018 general elections.


Section 187 (5) of the Standing Rules and Orders of the Parliament require that petitioners on Money Bills seek authority from the Vice President or Finance minister for permission to proceed. Money Bills solely concern taxation or government spending.


In a letter to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa seen by the Daily News, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said his $9,7 million vote to the Zec was inadequate.


The poll watchdog said they looked forward to a favourable response to the application to petition the august house at Chinamasa’s earliest convenient.


Chinamasa was yet to respond to the petition, and efforts to reach him for comment yesterday were futile.


As expected, the budget stuck by the government’s pledge to live within its means, offering little in the way of poll preparations — including nationwide voter registration process and related election administration exercises — despite the looming 2018 election.


This year’s spending plan had an unusually high degree of difficulty as it effectively doubles as the launch of an unofficial election campaign as the country hurtles towards the key local government, parliamentary and presidential elections.


“Considering the work that Zec is constitutionally expected to administer, it is our view that the resources availed so far are not adequate for the electoral management body to conduct credible electoral processes,” Tawanda Chimhini, the ERC executive director said in the letter to Chinamasa, that was also copied to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the two Vice Presidents Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, the Clerk of Parliament, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the chief whips of Zanu PF, mainstream MDC and the smaller MDC.


“Clearly, the budget presented to Zec is not adequate to support the election roadmap which was recently announced by the commission chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau.


“Without adequate support, delivery of such key electoral processes like the impending biometric voter registration, voter education and subsequent polling is likely to compromise quality and set the ground for undesirable disputes.”


ERC said elections were a process not an event and therefore require sufficient preparations and funding.


Section 155 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe obligates the state to take all appropriate measures including legislative measures to ensure peaceful, free and fair elections.


The $9,7 million allocated to Zec falls far short of the $59,2 million requested by Zec.


Chimhini said Zec set a roadmap for the 2018 elections which requires maximum support from the treasury.


“Essentially, funding for 2018 elections should be budgeted for in 2017. This is consistent with regional best practice and avoids challenges such as those faced in 2013.


“In that light, the ERC seeks to petition the Parliament . . . to further debate this allocation and advise the executive to reconsider its position on the Zec budget.”

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