The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has submitted a US$220 million budget to Treasury for both the referendum and general elections expected early next year.

ZEC deputy chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe said in an interview on the sidelines of a voter education workshop yesterday the body did not have any money and would wait for the allocation to start its programmes.

The submission comes as the election body says it is lobbying for autonomy from its parent ministry. Mrs Kazembe said US$104 million would cover the referendum while US$115 million would fund the general elections.

“We came up with a budget we submitted to Treasury and as long as we get the money we are ready to roll,” she said.

“We have already trained our officers.

“The referendum budget was submitted through the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs because they administer the Referendums Act, while the general elections budget was submitted to the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.”

The budget will cover voter education, voters’ roll inspection, special voting, postal ballot and the actual polling.

Zanu-PF spokesperson, Cde Rugare Gumbo, said the money for the referendum and elections should be made available once the polls are due.

“Money for elections will obviously be made available,” he said. “We have always said that Treasury should expeditiously release the funds.”

Cde Gumbo said that the delay in releasing the money would not affect the election timeframe.

MDC-T national deputy chairperson Mr Morgan Komichi, who attended the voter education workshop, said an election roadmap was more important.

“Elections cannot be held when there is no money,” he said. “What is important at the moment is to put in place necessary measures for credible elections.”

MDC vice president Mr Edwin Mushoriwa said elections should not be held next year.

“We don’t believe elections will be held next year because we need a proper roadmap for credible elections,” he said.

Mrs Kazembe said they were lobbying for ZEC to have full independence like the Judicial Service Commission.

“We want to move away from using the Executive as a conduit,” she said.

“The intention or desire is, just like the Judicial Service Commission, that we get our budget vote direct from Parliament.”

Mrs Kazembe said ZEC remained independent when discharging its constitutional duties.

“When we implement electoral processes, we don’t take orders from any political party or individual or any authority,” she said.

“We don’t report to the Ministry of Justice when administering the ZEC Act.”

ZEC, said Mrs Kazembe, was in consultation with the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs on the provisions of the Referendums Act.

She said what needed to be determined was whether or not people should be allowed to vote wherever they are during the referendum or they should vote in their constituencies.

“One problem that arises with allowing people to vote from wherever they are is that, if five million people flock to Binga, for example, on the polling day we might not have sufficient ballot papers for that area,” said Mrs Kazembe.