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Opposition parties slam newly gazetted ‘exclusionary’ election fees

Some opposition parties in Zimbabwe have criticized the newly gazetted nomination fees for candidates who want to participate in the upcoming general elections.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 144 of 2022 (1) on candidate nomination fees which will see an aspiring presidential candidate paying US$20 000.

According to the new regulations, an aspiring member of parliament will pay a candidate fee of US$1000 while local authority and Senate aspiring candidates will now pay a sum of US$200.

ZEC also pegged at US$10 for an electronic copy of the voters’ roll with data on one polling station voters, US$15 for the ward level voters’ roll, US$50 for the constituency voters’ roll, US$150 for the provincial voters’ roll and US$200 for the national voters’ roll.

The fees are payable in cash or at the prevailing official rate equivalent.

“It is hereby notified that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in terms of section 192 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) has, with the approval of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs made the following regulations: These regulations may be cited as the electoral (nomination of candidates) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 (1),” read the SI.

However, opposition political parties described the new nomination fee structure as an attack on the right of citizens to make political choices.

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the astronomical increase in candidate nomination and voters’ roll fees is grossly irrational, exclusionary and an attack on the right to make political choices. 

“The attempt to stop ordinary Zimbabweans from participating in elections undermines the essence of a free and fair election,” said Mahere.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) deputy spokesperson Washington Jamela claimed it is an attempt by the ruling party to stop some opposition parties from participating in the polls.  

“Zanu PF rules by statutory instruments because they have failed in every aspect of leadership. It is our position as a peoples party that elections as an instrument of democracy is supposed to be accessible to everyone at every level,” Jamela.

“They are either using violence or this type of trickery to frustrate other players and block them from taking part in elections. We are absolutely opposed to this, it is a trick to steal the election.”

Constitutional law expert and leader of the National Constitutional Assembly Professor Lovemore Madhuku told a local online publication that the new fees it would be very expensive for citizens to exercise their right.

“Excessive, undemocratic and unconstitutional. ZEC fails to appreciate that a ” free and fair” election starts from the idea that being a candidate must not be unaffordable to an ordinary politician. The amounts must be substantially reduced. US$500 000 for a party to field ALL candidates?” he said.

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