Poor ZEC Funding Opens Up 2018 Poll To Rigging - ERC
By Staff Reporter
Harare, February 15, 2017 – A TOP elections watchdog has warned government’s reluctance to channel enough resources towards next year’s elections could jeorpadise preparations for the crucial poll to the disadvantage of Zanu PF opponents.
In a statement, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said the make-or-break general elections were already under threat as a result of the measly budget allocation to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“Harmonised elections in 2018 are under threat of being illegitimate and not credible way before they are conducted,” said ERC.
“Without adjustments to the budget allocation for ZEC, conducting of an election will not deliver credibility and legitimacy, it must be postponed.”
In his budget allocations for 2017, Finance Minister gave ZEC $9 761 000 out of a requested $59 209 476.
This leaves a deficit of $49 448 478.
The allocated share does not cater for pre-election core costs including voter education, voter registration, and polling station demarcation.
In its budget outline, ZEC gave five key result areas being; voter registration, voter education, conduct of elections and referendums, stakeholder engagements and delimitation of electoral boundaries.
Of the key result areas, only $1,5 million was allocated for by-elections.
Nothing has been allocated for voter registration, voter education and stakeholder engagements and 2018 harmonised election preparations.
The ERC said the apparent lack of prioritisation towards funding ZEC speaks volumes about the lack of political will on the reform agenda.
“The prevailing budget allocation is a threat to the credibility of elections in Zimbabwe. It threatens the efficiency and sustainability of the country’s democracy. It opens up for increased disenfranchisement and voter suppression,” said the group.
ERC said the budgetary vote given to the election management body did not bode well with the country long envisaged desire to restore full democracy.
“The lessons of 2013 show that election costs cannot be budgeted for during the year of the election if credibility, transparency, and legitimacy are to be achieved,” said the elections group.