No money for Zim elections: minister

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By Columbus Mavhunga

Harare - Zimbabwe cannot afford to hold elections next year, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Friday, and appealed to the international community for aid.

“The biggest challenge is funding the elections and the referendum. It is clear that our resources are not going to be enough,” said Biti. “... The international community has to come in for assistance.”

Biti, from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said diamond revenues were still not reaching state coffers, amid allegations that the military is funneling cash to its own pockets and that of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

A referendum on a new constitution was meant to take place this year but never materialized. The southern African nation is also to hold general elections in 2013, which should put an end to the fragile coalition government between the MDC and Zanu-PF, in place since 2009.

Neighbouring governments pushed the two parties into the deal after the 2008 elections were tainted by violence, mainly targeting the MDC.

The regional power wants a new constitution passed before elections are held, but Mugabe has threatened to hold polls under the current laws, which opposition groups say favour the 88-year-old's grip on power. - Sapa-dpa

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