Review & Mail Writers
Labour and Economic Afrikan Democrats (LEAD) President, Linda Masarira, says the steep nomination fees for Presidential candidates for the 2023 elections announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at the weekend are fair as this will limit fly-by night politicians causing confusion in the political economy.
ZEC announced through statutory instrument 144 of 2022, which amended S1 153 of 2014, that those seeking to stand for president in 2023 would need to fork out US$20 000 up from US$1 000, while Members of Parliament would part with US$1 000 from US$50 and $200 for senators and councilors from the previous US$100.
Masarira told Review & Mail that although the overall nomination fees were a cause for concern, the presidential candidate fees were fair.
“ZEC did not consult stakeholders on the issue of raising nomination fees. This is a real cause for concern as ZEC continues to make decisions without consulting relevant stakeholders. (However), As a 2023 Presidential candidate, I think the Presidential nomination fees are fair. Last year in October I actually proposed the nomination fees figure to be increased to about 25k-50k,” she said.
She raised concern over the mushrooming of briefcase political parties which only emerged during election time to cause confusion on the political landscape.
In the last Presidential election in 2018 which proved a two-horse race between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader, Nelson Chamisa, who contested under the MDC Alliance banner, 22 candidates were duly nominated.
These included nonentities such as Noah Manyika, Violet Mariyacha, Joseph Busha, Peter Munyanduri, Langton Toungana, Timothy Chiguvare, Evaristo Chikanga, Divine Hove, Taurai Mteki and Peter Gava among others, who failed to garner a single vote.
A number of the candidates went on to join the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), a platform launched by President Mnangagwa in May 2019 to proffer solutions to the challenges that confronted the nation, through peaceful, open and transparent discourse.
The platform was however, dismissed as a waste of tax-payers money as it involved little known political figures whose presence added no value to the political discourse in the country.
Masarira, however, said increasing the MP nomination fees to USD$1000 was absurd and discriminatory to the average Zimbabwean who sought to represent people in the August House.
“Every Zimbabwean should have an opportunity and chance to represent people if they so wish without being limited by exorbitant candidate nomination fees. The increase of nomination fees for MPs and Senators is totally unwarranted and a violation of Zimbabwean people& 39;s political rights as enshrined in section 67 of the constitution of Zimbabwe,” she said.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader and leading Constitutional Law Expert, Lovemore
Madhuku said the fees were excessive, undemocratic and unconstitutional.
“ZEC fails to appreciate that a ‘free’ and ‘fair’ election starts from that being a candidate must not be unaffordable to an ordinary politician. The amounts MUST be substantially reduced. US$500K for a party to field ALL candidates?” he tweeted.
United Based ZimFirst leader, Maxwell Shumba, weighed in saying the ruling ZANU PF party continued to find new ways to stay in power by hook and crook.
“They are the only party that has access to our national resources, they continue to loot and now want to use this loot to exclude other citizens from exercising their constitutional right to elect a candidate of their choice. Under this idiotic instrument, a party will need US$500k to field a complete set of candidates. Only ZANU PF can afford this ridiculous amount in a country citizens earn wages in the useless local currency. The Statutory 143 of 122 is unconstitutional, undemocratic and re-enforces the reason why nearly every Zimbabwean wants to see ZANU PF gone. Elections are run and should be run from national budget and candidate fees should remain affordable to all citizens who want to serve as people’s representatives,” he said.
Shumba said his party ZEC was out of order, adding that his party would lead Zimbabweans to fight ‘this repressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional statutory tool’.
“In addition, this reinforces the notion that POLAD serves ZANU PF interests. Was that grouping consulted? Who did ZEC consult before they publicised this statutory instrument of repression designed to exclude Zimbabweans from participating in voting? Rigging has started and Zimfirst Party will do everything possible to pave way for free, constitutional and democratic elections. There will be no elections under Statutory 143 of 2022. We will fight it tooth and nail,” he said.
CCC Chief Elections Officer, Ian Makone condemned the nomination fee increases saying they weremeant to elbow out potential contenders.
“Simply unbelievable and can only be intended to restrict competition,” he said. South African based Political analyst, Gideon Chitanga said the fees were discriminatory and turned politics into a class thing where only the rich could participate as representatives of the poor.
“This is unacceptable for a country which liberated itself from racial and class discrimination to allow every Zimbabwean to freely participate, represent and be represented,” he said, adding it was one of the most undemocratic rules in a free country.