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Posted on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 12:08

AU on collision course with Sadc over Zimbabwe elections

By Janet Shoko

Finance minister Tendai Biti has insisted that there is no money for the $130 million electionsThe African Union has dispatched a nine member advance team of election observers to Zimbabwe ahead of polls President Mugabe wants held by July 31.

Mugabe, through his Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa on Tuesday filed a Constitutional Court application seeking a two week extension to the poll date following advice from regional leaders at the weekend.

But indications are that the veteran ruler is not keen on a postponement and will push for a July 31 poll date.

The AU announced the deployment of its nine observers through a letter to the Zimbabwean government early this month.

Mugabe's opponents have called for an early deployment of observers to monitor the campaign period and the conduct of parties during elections.

The veteran ruler's Zanu PF party has refused to allow Western countries to monitor the polls claiming they were plotting their leader's downfall.

Meanwhile, a local pressure group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) on Tuesday appealed to both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the AU to send election monitors immediately.



"Given the short period to elections we therefore appeal to the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union to urgently deploy both long and short term observers to promote a human rights environment conducive for credible, free and fair elections" ZESN said.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has indicated that it is forging ahead with plans for July 31 elections.



However, Finance minister Tendai Biti has insisted that there is no money for elections.

"There is no poll funding at the moment," he said.



"When Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) says it is ready, my understanding of that statement is they are ready to execute a constitutional mandate if they are asked to hold elections on a particular date.

"

"(SADC secretary-general Tomaz) Salomao will be going into the region soon talking to heads of state on election funding and I am willing to accompany him on the trip.

"The region, however, will not fund a flawed process."

Zimbabwe says it needs about $130 million to hold the elections.



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