President Mnangagwa’s Workers’ Day speech

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has dealt opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa another blow after allocating a paltry $2,3 billion to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), an amount inadequate to conduct by-elections next year.

Chamisa lost 32 MPs and 165 councillors to recalls by rival
MDC-T faction led by Thokozani Khupe.

He has been itching for by-elections that were already
suspended on October 2 by Vice-President and Health minister Constantino
Chiwenga, citing COVID-19 fears, in order to regain lost political ground.

But his dream appears shattered after Zec disclosed it is
financially incapacitated to run the parliamentary and council by-elections
after Treasury allocated the electoral body only $2,3 billion for electoral
activities for 2021 against a demand of $12 billion.

In his remarks at a post budget consultative meeting on
Thursday before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said the
electoral body was in financial doldrums to hold any credible by-election
unless government provides the $12 billion needed for the exercise.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube allocated Zec $2,3 billion in
the 2021 National Budget against $12 billion which the commission had said it
wanted for electoral activities in the coming year.

Silaigwana pleaded with Parliament to persuade Treasury to
adjust the commission’s 2021 budget allocation warning the much-awaited
by-elections will remain a pipe-dream without the funds.

“We are very truthful when we say we need $12 billion
instead of the $2 billion which is just a drop of our budget. It does not help
us much,” Silaigwana said.

Asked by Chegutu West legislator Dexter Nduna whether it
meant Zec was currently not operational without the $12 billion, Silaigwana
said:  “Sure.”

“We also highlighted that the allocation was not adequate
to support our programmes that encompasses delimitation and the by-elections
for the coming year and beyond.

“What was allocated against the bid is only a total of 19%
hence our cry for the committee to assist the commission so that it will be
able to realise its obligations.”

His sentiments were echoed by Zec chief inspector, Jane
Pamhidzirai Chigidji who said the commission’s capacity to conduct credible
electoral activities will be questionable if it was poorly funded.

“It’s a drop in the ocean if we are to have credible
elections,” Chigidji said. “So we are just appealing to Parliament to discuss
this issue so that at the end of the day, we are able to carry out our duties
and conduct credible elections.

“There are delimitation issues that have to be dealt with
before we have an election. Can we then have a credible election if we don’t
consult stakeholders?”

Silaigwana also advised the legislators that efforts to
engage Treasury on the issue have not yielded desired results.

Political analyst, Professor Austin Chakaodza, however said
the underfunding of Zec was a calculated move by President Mnangagwa to avoid
the by-elections at all cost.

“The political landscape has never been even since Zimbabwe
attained its independence in 1980,” Chakaodza said. “As such, the political
landscape will continue to disfavour the opposition movement of Zimbabwe.

“The levelling of the playing field can’t be achieved
through the current approach towards politics where there is a suspicion that
the ruling party will dictate what Zec must do, including when and how
elections should be held”

He said there is a mutual desire between the ruling party
and Zec to pursue an uneven political playing field in Zimbabwe.

“The current political landscape will continue to be bad
news for all opposition parties in Zimbabwe including the MDC -T and MDC
alliance,” he said. Newsday


Genius Kadungure aka Ginimbi was a popular Zimbabwean socialite and businessman.

He was also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of a gas company, Pioneer Gases which has interests in Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. He was also the owner of Dreams Nightlife Club...read more