Bankrupt Zimbabwe raises enough to fund referendum on a new constitution

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Zimbabwe’s broke coalition government says it has raised enough money privately to pay for a referendum on a new constitution scheduled for 16 March.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the vote, just three weeks away, “will not be stopped because of lack of money.” Mr Chinamasa said the financing was “sourced locally” from commercial and business interests after the United Nations and possible outside donors weren’t given enough time to contribute.

The state election commission says it needs £56 million for the vote ahead of national elections later in the year to end the shaky coalition between president Robert Mugabe and the former opposition formed after the violent and disputed elections in 2008. All coalition leaders have called for a “Yes” vote on the new constitution.

Finance minister Tendai Biti said the UN cited bureaucratic procedures preventing it from providing referendum money, adding “we submitted our budgets a bit late,” the Sunday Mail reported.

“I think they are going to fund the actual election but this time [for the referendum] we are going it alone,” Mr Biti, a high ranking official in prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party, said.