Zimbabwe Has Just $217 (€160) in the Bank After Paying Public Servants

The country cannot afford elections, the finance minister says

Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti has made a stunning announcement – the country's bank accounts are almost empty. He claims that their account balance is exactly $217 (€160).

According to New Zimbabwe, Biti's comment comes as a response to a proposal for new elections, by the ruling party. The elections are pushed by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. They are scheduled for this year, sometime before the month of June.

“The government has no money for elections,” Biti said in a press statement, in Harare.

Huffington Post Politics notes that the lawmaker explained the low balance of the accounts by citing payments of public servants' salaries. 73 percent of the country's total budget is allocated towards their wages. Zimbabwe has also struggled with inflation for the last decade.

Last year, the Zimbabwe Mail quoted Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, as he insisted elections would be held in March this year.

“Elections will be held at the outer limit, that is in March 2013 when the current term of the lawmakers would have constitutionally expired.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and we need to flatten the political space that at present is dominated by Zanu-PF,” Tsvangirai stressed.

“Last week, there was $200 (€147) in the government coffers. We will be approaching the international community to assist us in this regard, but it’s important that government should also do something,” Biti responds.

He refers to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s $200 million (€147 million) budget proposal for the new elections as unrealistic.

“We need to ensure electoral reforms are in place first before elections, then we may have elections in July before the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly [which Zimbabwe is hosting in August],” he adds.

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