The National, Friday 19th April 2013
By CHRISTINE PAKAKOTA
ELECTORAL Commissioner Andrew Trawen is calling on the government to provide K15 million so the commission can settle its debts before the local level government elections in June this year.
And Trawen says the unsettled bills for its service providers in the 2012 national elections could jeopardise the LLG elections scheduled for June 6 to Aug 30.
“My office has now received a number of petitions from 2012 service providers threatening to boycott the 2012 local level government elections,” he said yesterday.
Trawen explained that the commission had initially requested for K240 million to conduct the 2012 elections but the government approved and appropriated only K180 million, resulting in a significant shortfall of K60 million.
“The commission’s election budget was then revised to K225 million in which the government provided an additional K10 million during the election period and another K35 as outstanding payment budget support which was used to settle most of our vehicle hires.
“No justifications or reasons have been given for trimming or the reduction of the commission’s budget initially from K240 million to K180 million.
“Had the national government given us the K240 million that we requested for we would not be in the position we are in now,” he said.
Trawen said other service providers like catering and accommodation missed out as vehicle hires alone had cost the commission K30 million.
“We have been talking with the national government since last year but there was no favorable response forthcoming,” he said.
“Our officers in the provinces have been living with constant threats and some have even closed their offices in fear of their lives since the conclusion of the 2012 elections and this is not acceptable.”
Trawen said the commission had the constitutional mandate to conduct periodic free elections at the interval of once every five years under Section 50 of the national constitution and the national government is constitutionally obliged to sufficiently fund these elections.
“The Electoral Commission has always provided bottom-up budget planning estimates to Treasury and National Planning departments but over the years the national government has overlooked this,” he said.
Trawen added that he wanted service providers who have yet to be paid to know that “the commission has not forgotten them”.
In the light of 2012 election funding woes, the commissioner warned all provincial election managers to plan and spend within their monthly budgets for the LLG elections and not to spend over as in 2012.
“The government has only approved K50 million from our original K80 million LLG elections budget request therefore we must exercise financial discipline constraints by prioritizing our key activities and spending within our budget ceilings,” he said.