The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has told Parliament that it is critically underfunded and does not have capacity to conduct credible by-elections after Treasury allocated it a paltry $2 billion when it anticipated $12 billion.

ZEC chief elections offer Utloile Silaigwana made the remarks at a post budget consultative meeting on Thursday before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

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.

Credit: Zimbabwe Voice

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