Zimbabwe's inflation has been off the charts during the last few years. Calculators can no longer compute how much things cost in the country. The cost for the two elections is said to be 219 million U.S. dollars, but it is an astronomical amount in Zimbabwean dollars.
From the Guardian, writer Simon Allison explains the dilemma further.
It's a two-for-one deal. In the coming year, if all goes to plan – and it rarely does – Zimbabweans should vote twice: once in a referendum on a new constitution and again during national elections. According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the referendum will set the state back a hefty $104-million, while the elections required $115-million.
As a bonus, these elections will include three by-elections which should have been held this year. They were postponed when President Robert Mugabe successfully argued they should be delayed. His reasoning? They were too expensive. According to his estimates, the by-elections would set the state back around $38-million – that's just under $13-million per member of parliament.
Zimbabwe's situation is not unusual. Elections are a generally expensive business. In the United States, spending in preparation for next week's elections is estimated to be nearly $6-billion, with campaign adverts taken into account. That's more than twice the GDP of Lesotho. In fact, it's only a few billion short of the GDP of Zimbabwe itself.
But the United States can afford expensive elections. Zimbabwe, alas, cannot. Finance Minister Tendai Biti came out last week and told the rest of his unity government quite bluntly that there's unlikely to be enough money in the budget to fund the necessary democratic processes. He suggested that Zimbabwe look to foreign donors for assistance: to the likes of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.