THE cost of contesting elections in Zimbabwe is now the
highest in Africa, a data analysis of the new candidate nomination fees set by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has shown.
Zec’s new fees, which were approved by the Justice
ministry, represent an increase of between 100% and 1 900% from the previous
election and are about four times higher than the next expensive country,
Under the new fee structure, presidential candidates will
pay US$20 000 from US$1 000, aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs) $1 000 from
US$50, while councillors and senators will pay US$200 from US$100.
“Zimbabwe ranks highest in terms of nomination fees
required for one to stand as a candidate for the position of President,” the
Institute of Young Women and Development (IYWD) said after a data analysis.
“It is almost four times that of Zambia, which is the
second highest and is almost 10 times that of Kenya, which is the third
highest, a position which shows that the gazetted nomination fees for Zimbabwe
are beyond average given that the economy of Zambia and Kenya are performing
far much better than itself.
“Worthy to note is the progressive nature of the nomination
fees for Zambia, Kenya and Malawi, which are youth, disability and
gender-sensitive compared to their peers despite those of Zambia still
remaining in the high end.”
All data was converted to US$ for uniformity and
comparability, at the latest prevailing exchange rates.
Zimbabwe presidential aspirant’s fee is US$20 000. In
Zambia, male aspirants pay US$5 872,56, with women’s charges lower at US$4
Malawi presidential male’s fees are US$1 945,44 and females
Kenya presidential fees are US$1 666 and Namibia political
party candidates are charged US$134, while independent parties are charged
US$670, the data showed.
“Swaziland, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana
do not require nomination fees for the presidency due to the nature of their
electoral systems, which allows for election of the president from Parliament
and/or requires endorsement by a huge number of nominees for one to qualify as
Zimbabwe was also ranked as having steep nomination fees
for aspiring MPs followed by Zambia, with a marginal difference, Malawi, Kenya,
Botswana and South Africa, IYWD said.
“Zimbabwe MPs fees is US$1 000, Zambia follows at US$927,25
with Zambian females at US$834,52, Malawi males at US$486 and females at US$
243,18, Botswana and South Africa at US$ 38,97 and US$31,25, respectively.”
Advocacy groups and opposition parties have condemned the
new fees as an assault on democracy and participatory politics.
Opposition legislators yesterday also demanded a
ministerial statement on the matter.
Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana has defended the hefty
fees saying they are necessary to “shut out chancers”.
“These nomination fees are very fair in that they will weed
out chancers, pretenders and bring out serious and committed people to run for
public offices. Some of the countries that you are mentioning with lower fees
have so many requirements needed to register,” Mangwana told NewsDay.
Yesterday, Citizen Coalition of Change chief whip Prosper
Mutseyami called on Parliament to order Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to issue a ministerial statement in the
National Assembly on the new fees.
Analysts said the fees were prohibitive.
“The essence of democracy is that people must have easy
access to electoral processes either as candidates or as voters. This
requirement is being violated by the nomination fees, which is unfortunately
similar to the colonial era restrictions on the franchise,” political analyst
Vivid Gwede said.
Political outfit, WE LEAD founder Namatai Kwekweze said:
“The new charges are elitist in nature, and it will mean that the political and
electoral landscape in Zimbabwe becomes more accessible to those who are
financially affluent and have access to foreign currency in a country that has
ordinary people transacting in bond notes.”
Meanwhile, rights lawyers yesterday gave Ziyambi 72 hours
to withdraw the exorbitant nomination fees.
Posting on Twitter, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said:
“On behalf of opposition leader Egypt Dzinemunhenzva, @Katazamhondoro (Harare
North MP Rusty Markham) and pro-democracy activist @tapchiriga97 (former
Zimbabwe National Students Union secretary-general Tapiwanashe Chiriga), we
have been instructed to demand that @ZECzim (Zec) and @MoJLPA (Justice, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs ministry) should within 72 hours withdraw exorbitant
nomination fees gazetted last week.
“The aggrieved parties’ lawyer @obeyshava1 of @ZLHRLawyers
told @ZECzim and Justice minister Hon Ziyambi that the regulations amending the
nomination fees for 2023 elections are unconstitutional, unreasonable and have
the effect of blocking aspiring candidates from participating in elections.”