After paying public workers’ salaries last week, the balance in cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s government public account stood at just $217, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Tuesday.

“Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 (left) in government coffers,” Biti told journalists in the capital Harare, claiming some of them had healthier bank balances than the state.

“The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”
Zimbabwe’s government has warned it does not have enough money to fund a constitutional referendum and elections expected this year.

Biti said that left no choice but to ask the donors for cash.
“The President and the Prime Minister wrote to me and Minister Chinamasa instructing us to source money to fund elections from the international community,” said Minister Biti.

“We will be approaching the international community on the basis of that letter.”
Minister Biti said apart from donors, Government should play its part in funding the elections. But he said ZEC’s budget for the referendum was too huge.

“We disbursed US$2 million to the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs for onward transmission to ZEC,” he said.
“We were advised it will be used for voter education. However, we feel there is a need for moderation in those budgets because how does one justify huge budgets that are way over what we spent during the population census.”

But a ZEC official who requested anonymity said the budget was realistic.
“Population census doesn’t have polling stations. How can the referendum be compared with population census when we will have about 11 staffers at each polling station compared to just an individual going around homes asking how many people are there?” said the source.

ZEC deputy chief elections officer responsible for Finance and Administration Mr Notai Mutemasango confirmed they received US$2 million for ink to be used at the referendum.

The country’s elections agency said it requires $104 million to organise the vote. Government’s national budget for this year stands at $3.8 billion and the economy is projected to grow 5.0 percent.

The mineral rich country is now using the US dollar and the South African rand.

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