Sleeping Like a Hare Millions Billions Trillions    
African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

Texted, tweeted and twiddled their fingers
April 20, 2013, 10:18 am


Dear Family and Friends,

As we draw ever closer to elections in Zimbabwe and despite not yet knowing  when they’ll  take place, the rhetoric is already growing . Top of the list is the embarrassing incident  concerning the UN and the 132 million US dollars we apparently need to hold elections. After a joint request was made in writing for financial assistance from the UN by the MDC’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Zanu PF’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a team of UN assessors headed in our direction but didn’t quite make it all the way into Zimbabwe.  Stranded across the border in South Africa for nearly a week it seemed that Zimbabwe had changed its mind – not about wanting money but about who they’d let the UN team meet with once they got into Zimbabwe. For days the embarrassing arguments went on while the world watched and the UN team undoubtedly texted, tweeted and twiddled their fingers over the border, not allowed in. Zimbabwe it seemed were perfecting their well practised art of scoring own goals.

Confirming that the UN team were stuck across the border, Finance Minister Biti said: “one section of government decided it was not in the best  interest of the UN to come to Zimbabwe.”  Meanwhile Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi held a meeting with diplomats in Harare and said the UN had shown hostility in previous fact-finding missions. "They wanted to be involved in our domestic political affairs,"  he said.

The arguments continued and just when we began to hope that this shamefully embarrassing situation had been resolved, Minister Biti said:  “We eventually panel-beat an agreement in our ugly handwritings to allow the mission to come. As far as we are concerned, the mission should come, and there is nothing that should stop it from coming.”  We had no idea what the terms ‘ugly handwriting’ or ‘panel beating’ really meant  but by then that the UN  assessors had been sitting in Joburg for four days, stuck in limbo. Later we learnt that the MDC and Zanu PF had apparently agreed to only allow the UN assessors to meet with some of the people on their original list of appointments when they got to Zimbabwe. 

It wasn’t that simple though. Believing we were back on track it came as a shock when Minister Chinamasa suddenly announced that the UN team weren’t going to be allowed in after all, and that was final.  "It was clear that the U.N. team wanted a broader mandate. They kept talking about the security sector and media reforms, all sorts of euphemisms ... and that we reject,” Chinamasa said. “We remain alert to any attempts to manipulate, infiltrate and interfere with our internal processes and we are happy we have parted ways with them. The U.N. avenue for sourcing resources for the election is now closed."

Wading through a week’s worth of shameful reports, our confusion grew over just how much we actually need for the 2013 general election. The original request for election funding to the UN was for 254 million US dollars but that dropped to 132 million dollars after we paid for our own constitutional referendum. Did the referendum really cost a whopping  122 million dollars we wondered or had we lost the plot somewhere along this murky road? And while we were mulling over that question, another puzzling statement came along. Finance Minister Biti said the 132 million they were now asking the UN for, was expected to be “rationalized” downwards to 100 million. Biti said:“…most of the equipment, the vehicles and the computers we acquired for the referendum are going to be used for the elections as well. I have absolutely no doubt that we will reduce this budget significantly…”

The mind boggles. Until next time, thanks for reading,  love cathy.

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