Zimbabwe: Bankrupt, Appeals for Electoral Funding

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | January 31, 2013 1:34 PM EST

Cash-strapped Zimbabwe is appealing for donations from the international community to support the requirements for the country's electoral spending as its finance minister revealed this week the South African nation only has $US217 left in its coffers.

Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, announced this week the country's public account only has $US217 left as cash on hand in the bank, after paying off its obligations to its civil servants last week.

"Last week when we paid civil servants there was $US217 (left) in government coffers," Mr Biti told journalists in the capital Harare.

However, in an interview with the BBC, he said the government received some $30 million of revenue the following day, of which he did not disclose the sources.

Still, Mr Biti said the financial influx would not be enough to support the needed funding for an electoral proceeding to push through this year.

At least $104 million is needed to organise the polls this year, according to Zimbabwe's elections agency.

"We will be approaching the international community to assist us in this regard...The government has no money for elections...It's important that government should also do something," Mr Biti said.

"The government finances are in a paralysis state at the present moment," he said.

Although the Zimbabwe economy is forecast to grow 5.0 per cent, its public finances remain a mess. Moreover, local businesses continue to struggle against unstable electricity supplies, lack of liquidity and high labour costs.

"The minister's statement is indicative of the very difficult situation in the country. It shows the economy really is in the intensive care unit. We have a very small formal economy so the space where minister Biti can raise resources is limited. And we should ask where certain revenues are going," McDonald Lewanika, director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, was quoted by The Guardian.

Mr Biti, along with Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe's Justice Minister, have been tasked to source money from international donors, according to the government-run Herald newspaper.

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