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South Africa to Fund Zimbabwe Elections


People line up to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013. Officials say South Africa has approved $100 million in aid which will fund elections by October.

People line up to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013. Officials say South Africa has approved $100 million in aid which will fund elections by October.

Zimbabwe's government has failed to raise money for elections, but South Africa has approved $100 million in funding which will be used to pay for the polls, Finance Minister Tendai Biti told journalists.

However, he said South Africa has approved $100 million in budgetary support to Harare, which will be used to pay for the polls.

“We are already under pressure, being stifled, being suffocated with fiscal pressures," Biti said. "I'm aware the South African cabinet has made a decision on the budgetary assistance and a positive one. What is outstanding is a question of implementation."

Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections by October of this year to replace a fragile four-year-old coalition government which unites the parties of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

However, the planning for the polls has been stalled due to financial concerns.

Zimbabwe cannot borrow from institutions like the World Bank because it has defaulted on its loans, and a request for funding from the United Nations was held up when officials would not approve a visit by the world body's assessment team.

In March, Zimbabwe managed to hold a constitutional referendum by borrowing money from local companies.

The referendum went smoothly, and voters overwhelmingly approved the constitution, but observers fear the elections may be tainted by violence and intimidation tactics.

Police have been confiscating radios that pick up foreign stations, a measure that would force Zimbabweans to listen to state-run media, which generally support Mugabe.

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