By Nkosana Dlamini
THE Election Resource Centre (ERC) has welcomed government’s decision to set aside $132 million for the holding of elections next year but says the amount fell below the bid placed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for the delivery of a flawless poll.
Presenting his 2018 budget projections in parliament on Thursday, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa pledged to deliver a credible election next year.
He said this fell within the new Emmerson Mnangagwa led government’s efforts to restore confidence in a country battling to reverse a negative international image.
Chinamasa then pledged $132 for the process.
Responding to the move, ERC said the financial commitment pledged towards the process by Treasury was commendable but also urged ZEC to come clean on its operational plans to avoid a bungled process.
“Having the money on elections set aside is commendable,” ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini (pictured) said Thursday.
“Sadly it is less than the projection shared by ZEC.
“However for the planning processes expected during the pre-election phase of the election cycle to be complete, ZEC needs to finalise its operational plan which must be a matter of public record.”
Chimhini said past experiences have shown that some key decisions concerning the country’s polls were made on an ad hoc basis, moreso, on the eve of their roll out, unnecessarily throwing processes into turmoil.
He urged ZEC to come clean on how it intended to expend its budget to bring about transparency in processes that have often been mired in controversy.
“It aids the holding of the election authorities accountable since there is a basis for tracking what will be done,” he said.
“Without a plan, there is a risk of making electoral processes ad hoc and allowing election authorities too much discretion to determine how and when processes are undertaken.
“The speedy putting up and sharing with stakeholders of the operational plan for the 2018 elections, which is way overdue, will limit the vulnerabilities associated with our elections specifically in terms of manipulation, malpractice and fraud. These vulnerabilities tend to be amplified if planning for elections is erratic.”