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By Times Reporter

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) expects to raise US$11.5 million to support October 30 presidential elections.

Resident co-ordinator, Macleod Nyirongo said in Lusaka at the weekend that the UNDP would this week open an account where organisations would be able to deposit their contributions to support the elections.

Mr Nyirongo said the UNDP supported Zambia’s electoral system and would help mobilise resources to fund the elections.

“We expect to raise US$11.5 million from contributions, which will come from different stakeholders and this fund shall be managed by the UNDP,” he said.

Mr Nyirongo was confident that the pool account would raise a substantial amount of money to support the elections.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has insisted that the budgeted K231 billion for the forthcoming presidential elections is not extravagant.

ECZ director, Dan Kalale, has said the commission had been forced to use shortcuts in tendering procedures to procure election materials in readiness for the elections because of lack of time.

Speaking at The Post News Maker’s Forum in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Kalale said the K231 billion budget was justified because the presidential election would be labour-intensive.

Reacting to Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president, Reuben Lifuka’s concerns that the budget was too high compared to the last tripartite elections, he said there were a lot of issues to be considered.

He said the budget, approved by the ministry of Finance and National Planning, took into account high fuel prices and increased conditions of service for civil servants who would be engaged to conduct the elections.

He said ECZ would engage about 70,000 people who would conduct elections and help in conflict resolution and voter education, which were all expensive ventures.

Mr Kalale said in this year’s presidential elections, few teachers would be engaged because most of them were found to have been partisan in the 2006 elections.

He said the ECZ was ready for the elections and would endeavour to perform to people’s expectations.

Mr Kalale said the commission was only worried about the arrival of election materials because only five weeks remained before elections and that materials were expected to be in the country at least two weeks before elections.

He said announcement of results would follow the 2006 pattern where urban centres would be announced earlier than rural polling centres.

He also said the conflict resolution committee was currently sitting to determine allegations against acting president Banda in line with the Electoral Code of Conduct.

In his presentation, Mr Lifuka said people were wondering why the budget for the presidential elections seemed higher than the one for general elections two years ago.

He said it was clear that all stakeholders were not ready for the presidential elections and that a good number of people would not vote because there was no continuous voter registration.

He said even the civil society was not ready for the elections and that they had to adjust their programmes in order to accommodate the elections.

At the same discussion Forum for Democratic Process (FODEP) president, Stanley M’hango, said that his organisation was ready for elections and was in the process of submitting names of its agents to the ECZ.

Mr M’hango said FODEP expected free and fair elections because electoral disputes were not good for democratic stability of any country.

© 2005 Times Printpak Limited. All Rights Reserved

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