The Zimbabwe Republican Front (ZRF) has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to lower presidential and parliamentary nomination fees, claiming failure to do so will leave most opposition parties unable to field candidates for the general elections.
ZRF, which was formed early last year and led by Fanuel Lisenga also stated that President Emmerson Mnangagwa must act on this matter if he is serious about providing political parties with a level playing field.
Last year, ZEC and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs imposed high nomination costs for presidential and parliamentary candidates wishing to run in this year’s elections in Statutory Instruments 144 and 145 of 2022, which were gazetted in August.
Presidential candidates will have to pay US$20,000, up from $1000 in 2018, while parliamentary candidates would have to pay US$1,000, up from $50.
In an interview with media on Saturday at the Bulawayo Media Centre, ZRF vice president Pilani Jamu said the fee hike violated citizens’ political rights to run for public office.
“We are calling on ZEC, after the flawed delimitation process, to remove any other barriers such as the highly exorbitant election participation fees so as to keep and maintain democracy in our country. Barring other political players by use of exorbitant fees would be an unprecedented move,” he said.
The ZRF vice president also appealed to President Mnangagwa to intervene on the issue and seek a reduction of nomination fees.
“If the Republic of Zimbabwe is to further its development sustainably, there is a great need for new players to bring to the fore new ideas. Recently President Mnangagwa told the visiting Belarus president (Alexander Lukashenko) that his government treats all political players equally. If he is sincere, he should not allow ZEC to bar other players by using whatever barriers,” he said.
According to Jamu, ZRF also condemned political violence, which had played out in several sections of the country just before the elections.
“As a nation, we cannot afford violent elections. We have drawn several lessons from past polls which were violent and in some cases bloody resulting in damage of property , hospitalisation of people as well as the loss of lives,” he said.
“We call upon peace and order to all parties, especially the big players which are more often at loggerheads. Let us perfect the ground as we enter towards the elections.”