No turning back on election nomination fees: Ziyambi

Despite protestations over the exorbitant election nomination fees gazetted last year, the Government says there is no turning back as that matter is a closed chapter.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) gazetted SI 144 of 2022 on the Electoral (Nomination of Candidates) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 (No.1) in August last year, increasing presidential nomination fees from US$1 000 to US$20 000.

The nomination fees for National Assembly and Senate candidates also increased from US$50 to US$1 000.

In response to questioning from MPs about the government’s position on the high nomination costs, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi, stated that was a closed chapter because legislators had allowed the specific SI to pass without challenge.

However, MPs complained they were not consulted and only learnt about the nomination fees after they were published.

“Statutory Instruments are passed by this august House. This august House, which the Honourable member passed these statutory instruments and is now asking me because of his own preferences, not the majority here, that I should do something about that statutory instrument. The answer is no,” said Ziyambi.

He also added that Zimbabweans will enjoy their right to Section 67 of the constitution, which is political participation, when the country goes for elections sometime in August.

Ziyambi said it is surprising for the MPs to ask questions after the SI was affected and when they are approaching the end of the five-year term.

“When Statutory Instruments are published, the Member was supposed to be on the lookout, raise those questions in here, and ensure that Statutory Instrument does not see the light of the day even after publication. This is subsidiary legislation where you are allowed to publish it. I cannot stand here and answer questions about things that happened and they are a closed chapter,” said the leader of government business in Parliament.

Ziyambi’s remarks come after Binga North MP, Prince Dubeko Sibanda, said the gazetted nomination fees are prohibitive.

 “On August 19, 2022, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission published three Statutory Statements namely S I 143, SI 144 and SI 145. These being Statutory Instruments to do with fees that shall be paid by candidates and observers in the 2023 general elections. There was disgruntlement in the general population that the fees that were gazetted by ZEC might be violating Section 67 (3) (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Sibanda said.

“For the benefit of all, it is the right to be voted into office by any Zimbabwean citizen. Those fees that were gazetted are deemed generally by Zimbabweans to be prohibitive. We are about to go into the general elections. What is Government policy to ensure that Section 67 (3) (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is enjoyed by all citizens of Zimbabwe.”

Sibanda said  an election by its nature, is not supposed to be a surprise to any citizen who desires to participate.

“Therefore, the Honourable Minister should respond to the question. Are we going to get into the elections with these prohibitive nomination fees or the Government is going to attend to the revision of those fees so that the rights that are enshrined in that Section are realised,” he said.

Hwange Central MP Daniel Molokele echoed Sibanda’s comments, claiming that the legislators were not consulted on the nomination fees.

“My supplementary question pertains to the procedure of coming up with those prohibitive fees. As far as we are concerned, we just heard from the Gazette. What consultation was done in terms of making sure that the fees are realistic in Zimbabwe,” Molokele said.

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