Zimbabwe withdraws UN election fund request after access sought to civic groups

South African nation was seeking $132m to conduct polls

People take cover from an afternoon rain storm in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Pete Muller/The New York Times

People take cover from an afternoon rain storm in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Pete Muller/The New York Times

Thu, Apr 18, 2013, 10:05

Zimbabwe’s government has withdrawn its request to the United Nations for election funding because the organisation insisted on meeting civic groups ahead of any deal, justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday.

The cash-strapped Southern African nation approached the UN earlier this year to secure the $132 million (€100.5 million) needed to pay for general elections the aging President Robert Mugabe wants held before the end of June.

Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change have been sharing power in Zimbabwe since 2009, but the arrangement has stalled due to ideological differences. “The instruction we have is that the conditions set by the [UN] team are unacceptable,” state news agency New Ziana quoted Mr Chinamasa as saying.

The UN team had been due to travel to Zimbabwe last week to meet officials from the electoral commission, the registrar-general and political leaders. But when it requested a meeting with civil society groups, the trip was cancelled.

“It was clear that the team wanted a broader mandate,” Mr Chinamasa said. “We remain alert to any attempts to manipulate . . . our internal processes and we are happy we have parted ways with them.” However, the MDC has made it clear it did not have a problem with the UN meeting civil society groups.


Political violence
Civil society groups have reported an increase in political violence and intimidation since January, and they accuse Zanu-PF. The party has been in power in Zimbabwe since 1980.

Zimbabwe held a constitutional referendum earlier this year, but the $40 million needed was borrowed domestically. Finance minister Tendai Biti confirmed South Africa would give Zimbabwe a $100 million loan this week, but this was in direct budgetary support and not to pay for elections.