‘Women candidates prejudiced by exorbitant nomination fees’

The nomination court process prejudiced women candidates and set back their participation in political processes, the Women and Law in Southern Africa in Zimbabwe (WLSA) has noted.

Two aspiring female presidential candidates failed to submit their nomination papers last week due to payment challenges.

One of the female presidential candidates, Elisabeth Valerio, of the United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA) complained that despite having paid her nomination fees, she had been informed by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that her payment in local currency had not been processed and that she would need to produce a cash payment of US$20 000.

In a statement, WLSA said the exorbitant fees were a violation of political rights.

“Women candidates amongst others were unfairly prejudiced for example WLSA noted the cases of Presidential candidate for Labour Economists and African Democrats (LEAD)- Linda Masarira and Elisabeth Isabel Valerio of the United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA) party who as prospective candidates were disqualified from lodging papers on account of difficulties experienced in effecting payments of nomination fees for various reasons.”

WLSA said the decision is a setback for women’s rights in politics and decision-making, “as exorbitant nomination fees unfairly restrict women’s access to political participation and representation.”

“Women and Law in Southern Africa urges the government of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Zimbabwe Gender Commission and key stakeholders to take action to advance women’s rights in electoral processes.

WLSA also urged the Government to respect the right of women to participate in elections as both candidates and voters as enshrined in the constitution section 67 subsection 2 (c) and subsection 3 (b) and to fully implement the 50/50 provision of gender equality as enshrined in the constitution under section 56.

Meanwhile, LEAD leader Linda Masarira said she has decided to redirect her efforts to build a strong, critical mass of opinionated women who have the courage to transform the current status quo.

“Women will not continue to be pawns in a game of chess in this country. There is no democracy without women. Henceforth, we will advocate for equal opportunities for all, equality before the law, non-discrimination, supremacy of the constitution as we build a viable women’s movement with the capacity to win the women’s struggle with a successful women’s revolution,” she said.

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