The Zimbabwe Republicans Front (ZRF), a year-old political party, is seeking financial aid from well-wishers in order to raise the substantial nomination fees required by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for all contesting candidates.
In August of last year, ZEC gazetted Statutory Instrument 144 of 2022, which increased presidential nomination fees from US$1 000 to US$20 000.
Nomination fees for National Assembly and Senate candidates were also raised from $50 to $1 000.
ZRF is also advocating for a revision to the Political Parties Finance Act, which bars foreign funding, to allow Zimbabwe’s treasury to support all of the country’s political parties.
The current Act simply states that political parties with at least five percent of the total votes cast in the national elections are eligible for treasury support.
At a news conference in Bulawayo on Wednesday, ZRF president Fanuel Lisenga revealed that the party was soliciting financial support from well-wishers in order to pay nomination fees for its candidates.
“Nomination fees are needed on June 21, 2023, and as we have said in the past, most of our parliamentary candidates including me are crying foul. The US$20 000 for a presidential candidate is far too much and beyond the reach of many,” he said.
“We are appealing to well-wishers to come to the rescue of small parties because it’s going to be hard for us to field all the parliamentarians in this race after all the efforts we put in.”
Lisenga said ZRF may be a small party but has the potent willpower to bring a “very good Zimbabwean republic.”
“But we feel left out and have been subjected to an injustice by a few elites who have resources,” he said.
The ZRF leader stated that if all political players in Zimbabwe, regardless of economic level, participated in the August 23 polls, it would be a very interesting race, but it was “unfortunate that ZEC has commercialised the constitutional right of all Zimbabweans.”
“ZEC gazetted these exorbitant nomination fees without consulting all stakeholders and small parties, ZRF included. The marginalised, (some) people with disabilities don’t have that money,” said the party president, who highlighted some of their parliamentary candidates had disabilities.
“Our national spokesperson, Hlekisa Moyo, who is eager to contest for the Cowdray Park seat, is well known there and if afforded a chance, is the one who can win Cowdray Park more than other contestants but because of these exorbitant fees he may be challenged. Justice hasn’t been done in that area.”
Lisenga called on lawmakers to revise the Political Parties Finance Act so that all parties receive a share from the Treasury.
“The Act prohibits foreigners from supporting political parties in Zimbabwe. We feel it is the responsibility of the government to not just support big parties as if the big parties are the only ones with a future. All parties including the small parties must have a contribution to map the future of Zimbabwe,” Lisenga said.
If ZRF does not receive the financial assistance, Lisenga stated the party will notify its followers of which opposition leader to vote for.
“We are going to field some of our parliamentary, council, and Senate candidates but for the presidential race, we will come back to our Republican supporters and announce which presidential candidate to vote for in the event we fail to raise the US$20 000 which is needed,” he said.
“Half a million dollars is a lot to field all candidates in Zimbabwe. There are other political parties who are linked here and there but we still have confidence in our own parliamentary candidates. If they can get in the government, they can deliver a good Zimbabwe.”