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Zimbabwe, seeking election funding, turns to neighboring countries

The Southern African Development Community last month urged Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to ensure fair elections.

Story highlights

  • Finance minister: Zimbabwe is well short of the $132 million needed to run its election
  • He spoke today with for SADC member nations, but wouldn't say which
  • SADC nations pressured for a power-sharing arrangement in Zimbabwe in 2009
  • A prior effort to obtain funding failed when a UN team wasn't allowed in the country

Zimbabwe has asked neighboring southern African countries to help fund elections scheduled for the end of the month, the country's finance minister said Wednesday.

Tendai Biti said he had released about $40 million of the $132 million the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission needs for the July 31 vote, "but we are far away from reaching the target. We do not have the money. We can't increase taxes."

Biti is a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC).

"I have been in touch with the (Southern African Development Community) secretariat on the issue of trying to raise funds from the region. So it is something we are going to pursue. In fact it is something we have already started pursuing. We spoke to four countries in the region today. I can't disclose their names and what we discussed."

The 15-nation SADC pressured President Robert Mugabe to form a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai in 2009 following a violence-marred election. The 89-year-old Mugabe had claimed victory over Tsvangirai, the opposition leader at the time.

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Biti said he had written to Mugabe asking him to force diamond-mining companies controlled by his party, ZANU PF, to release more than $150 million in profit they made in June.

He added that his efforts to get international funding from the United Nations had been frustrated by Zimbabwe's justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, a ZANU PF member.

The UN said in March it was prepared to fund Zimbabwe's elections. But that fell through after its assessment mission was barred by Chinamasa from entering the country.

That has left Harare with few options for funding; one such is the SADC.

While launching his reelection bid Friday, Mugabe threatened to pull out of SADC, accusing it of being biased against ZANU PF.

Last month, the regional bloc asked Mugabe to ensure a free and fair election.