TREASURY has allocated the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) ZW$116 600 000 000 (US$20 137 979) in the 2024 National Budget, which analysts say is likely to be whittled down by the controversial recall of opposition legislators and councillors.
Zimbabwe, which held general elections on 23 August, is going back to the polls on 9 December following the recall of main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) MPs by the party’s self-proclaimed secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.
While Zec spent a hefty US$188 million on the general elections, the upcoming by-elections are calculated to eat into Zec’s new budget, which political analyst Rashweat Mukundu has described as a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“There is no other way to describe this level of wastage other than failed leadership. Zimbabwe is facing a cholera epidemic and a drought, with millions struggling to get a decent meal daily, yet Zec will spend US$5 million on by-elections that were politically contrived by Zanu PF, Tshabangu, Parliament leadership and the judiciary,” Mukundu told The NewsHawks.
“The country is trapped in a political crisis that is the making of Zanu PF and its desire for unfettered control of everything.”
Zec is also facing funding constraints after the European Union (EU) pulled its US$5 million funding to the ZIM-ECO 2 project after the sham elections, further casting funding of the polls into doubt.
The EU had been funding the ZIM-ECO 2 project to enhance Zec’s capacity to conduct the electoral process, with the aim of contributing to the improvement of the entire electoral cycle, not limited to elections alone.
“The project supporting Zec, which is managed by UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] and scheduled to run until December 2024, is currently under scrutiny due to concerns raised by several international Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) regarding the independence and transparency of Zec during the 2023 harmonised elections,” the EU said in a statement after the elections.
“The recent preliminary statements from multiple EOMs, including the EU EOM, have raised concerns about Zec’s management of the electoral process, particularly regarding its independence and transparency.
“The EU contributes together with other donors to a UNDP-managed project aiming at enhancing Zec’s institutional and technical capabilities to fulfil its constitutional mandate. In response to these concerns and in adherence to responsible management of EU development cooperation funds, the EU has initiated a procedure to suspend its contribution to this project.”
The EU also provided funding for the purchase of a computer server for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) before being shut out and denied access when the hardware was delivered ahead of the disputed 2018 general elections which President Emmerson Mnangagwa is accused of stealing.
During the August elections, Zec failed to provide ballot paper on time, which saw some voters casting their ballots deep into the night, sparking outrage from the opposition and key election observers.
Zec has however shifted blame on court challenges against it for the challenges in the production and distribution of ballot paper.
“During the election activities, auditors were deployed in all the provinces including districts. The Ballot paper and voters’ rolls for the 2023 harmonised elections were printed by the Printing and Minting Company of Zimbabwe (PCMZ) formerly Fidelity Printers. The commission faced challenges in the production and distribution of ballot papers,” Zec said.
“These challenges emanated largely from what has now come to be called lawfare against the commission. The commission faced an unprecedented number of court challenges (more than 100 applications) arising from the outcome of the nomination courts.
“The court challenges derailed its preparations and roadmap as it sought to attend to the court challenges and to meet the proclaimed electoral timeline.”