Mugabe government had no money for elections
Finance minister Tendai Biti yesterday said the inclusive government had no money for elections as the August 30 Supreme Court deadline for President Robert Mugabe to call for by-elections in three vacant constituencies beckoned.
Mugabe on July 11 lost a Supreme Court appeal to delay the by-elections in Lupane East, Nkayi South and Bulilima East after former MDC legislators in the constituencies won a High Court case to force the new polls.
Njabuliso Mguni, Abedinico Bhebhe and Norman Mpofu lost their seats after they were expelled from the MDC and had been fighting in the courts to force government to call for the by-elections.
The veteran ruler was reportedly now toying around the idea of calling for by-elections in over 30 other vacant constituencies.
A shadowy State media columnist, Nathaniel Manheru, believed to be Mugabe spokesperson George Charamba, even suggested the Zanu PF leader could go further and call for harmonised elections.
But Biti told journalists in Harare that government had only budgeted money for the referendum for the new constitution set for October.
“I don’t have money for by-elections, but referendum, as we have done with the (population) census,” Biti said.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it required $220 million for the referendum and harmonised elections.
The government struggled to raise $37,2 million for the census and had to extend a begging bowl to donors for $15,2 million for the programme.
Biti said he was confident the draft constitution would be taken to a referendum despite the deadlock caused by Zanu PF’s bid to smuggle in its positions on the proposed supreme law.
“There will be a solution. According to the Maputo (Sadc) resolutions, we should consult the facilitation team whenever there is an impasse and I am happy the facilitation team as a matter of urgency is coming tomorrow (today),” he said.
Biti said he was baffled why Zanu PF had rewritten the Copac draft after its representatives had given the government-led process the nod.
“If the contents of the draft constitution do not reflect the views of the people, the people will speak at the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference,” he said.
“Zanu PF has no right to veto the views of the people or speak on behalf of the people. Let the people themselves punish us by voting against the draft in a referendum.”
Biti blamed factionalism in Zanu PF for the impasse in the constitution-making process.