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Zimbabwe has no money for elections

HARARE, Apr 27 – Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the country does not have the money to hold elections planned for later this year, a local daily reported on Wednesday.

"The economy cannot sustain an election," the privately owned NewsDay quoted Biti as saying.

"The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has submitted a budget for $400 million (for holding elections).

"Where do I get that kind of money when I am looking for $150 million to fund the budget deficit if revenues remain as they are?"

Zimbabwe\’s economy has showed signs of recovery since President Robert Mugabe and Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government in 2009. That pact was aimed at ending the deadly political violence sparked by their presidential run-off election in 2008.

But uncertainty over new elections tipped for this year has scared off new investors, who also worry about Mugabe\’s threats to take over foreign firms.

Although no dates have been set for the polls, Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have said elections should be held this year, while Tsvangirai and his MDC party want reforms to ensure a level playing field before the polls.

Biti said the government wage bill for the first quarter was $248.6 million.

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"More appalling is the fact that, despite this high wage bill, individual salary levels in the civil service are pathetic," he said.

"The civil service audit that was sanctioned by government in 2009 has revealed (the) existence of ghost workers," he said.

The audit unearthed 75,000 ghost workers.

The southern African country is expected to hold a referendum in September on a draft constitution, which will be followed by an election.

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