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Exorbitant Zim nomination fees exclude marginalised groups

By Dalphine Tagwireyi

The prohibitive nomination fees set by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) are likely to disenfranchise marginalised groups. The fees which every candidate has to pay to participate in this year’s elections have shot up dramatically.

Opposition political parties and political activists have deemed the fees exorbitant and unfair. The nomination fees for parliamentary candidates have escalated from R900 (US$50) during the 2018 election to R18,000 (US$1,000) for this election. A presidential candidate is expected to fork out R360,000 (US$20,000), which is up from R18,000 (US$1,000).

Already ordinary citizens cannot afford basic commodities and are living from hand to mouth. And now poor people have effectively been barred from participating as candidates due to the high fees.

Observers believe the fee hike is a strategy by the well-resourced ruling Zanu-PF to win back opposition seats. Zanu-PF currently has 110 out of 153 parliamentary seats.

Patriotic Zimbabwean Party spokesperson Shelton Mupambwa said that this is against the fundamental principles of democracy.

“Those who are not able to pay those hefty amounts for nominations are excluded and it is aimed at creating a highly polarised political space, where the poor, young people, women and people with disabilities have no voice,” he said.

Gerald Chanyemba, who lives with a locomotor disability, said his passion to venture into politics after pursuing a Political Science degree was thwarted.

“The ZEC’s exorbitant fees impede young people, who constitute 67% of the country’s population, from participating in electoral processes. I still have a passion for politics but they are pushing us away with their fees.

“I hate the mentality some people have towards people living with disabilities. They think our intellectual capacity is limited and that we can’t participate in politics and contribute to parliamentary discourse,” he said.

No date has been set yet, but hints have suggested that the election will take place in August. An official date will be announced in due course.

The ZEC said there are currently 5,804,736 registered voters. Its deputy chairperson, Rodney Kiwa, said the election management body will meet to consider complaints and requests concerning the fees.

Pictured above: The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission signage

Image source: ZEC

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