By A Correspondent- The Government has set aside $76 billion for the 2023 harmonised elections to cover various activities, with $53 billion earmarked for the actual polling.
Presenting the 2023 National Budget yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said other remaining activities related to the elections requiring funds are voter registration and inspection.
“The country will hold harmonised elections in 2023, as enshrined in the Constitution. The preparations have already commenced, which include the delimitation exercise, voter registration and voter’s role inspection. The 2023 National Budget is setting aside resources to cover voter registration ($12 billion), voter inspection $11 billion and actual election conduct $53 billion, among others,” said Prof Ncube.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chief elections officer, Mr Utloile Silaigwana, could not immediately comment last night saying he was still to get through the Budget statement.
Political parties also said they needed time to familiarise with the Budget statement.
Presently, ZEC is finalising the delimitation of electoral boundaries following the conclusion of the population and housing census exercise held in April this year.
Population census results will provide ZEC important information in the delimitation exercise.
From April to end of September, the Central Registry Department ran a blitz under which it issued national identification cards, birth and death certificates, among others, to ensure people that have reached the age of 18, could register to vote.
As part of ensuring the smooth flow of elections, the Government has since gazetted the Electoral Amendment Bill that seeks to relax registration requirements for voters ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.
The Bill will amend several provisions of the main Act for it to conform with the Constitution.
Registration is now easier since potential voters just need to give their address without providing documentary back-up.
When voters were required to produce proof of residence to register to vote, some tenants not paying the primary rates faced challenges in getting the proof of residence from landlords who either did not want to be bothered or simply did not want to admit they had a tenant.
The Bill confirms that a driver’s licence cannot be used as identification; voters have to produce the national ID card or a valid passport.
A driver’s licence is issued by the Central Vehicle Registry while the other two documents are official documents from the Registrar-General and the Civil Registry Offices.
The new law will also provide the timeframe within which national assembly and local authority candidates can withdraw from contesting in an election and also provide for the incorporation of the 30 percent women’s quota and the youth quota.
It is envisaged that once the Bill is enacted into law, it will assist in ensuring that only citizens are able to vote in an election, that proper candidates are allowed to contest in an election, providing clarity on when and how a candidate can withdraw their candidature in an election so as to afford ZEC sufficient time to make changes to the design of the ballot and advising the electorate of any changes to the candidature in an election.
In his State of the National Address on Wednesday during the official opening of the Fifth Session of the Ninth Parliament, President Mnangagwa called for a peaceful election in the forthcoming harmonised election.