Elections and democracy advocacy group, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has castigated the newly introduced nomination fees by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) saying the move does not promote openness.
Recently, ZEC announced that presidential candidates have to fork out US$20 000, up from US$1 000 to qualify to stand in the 2023 elections while those seeking to contest for parliamentary seats will each part with US$1 000 up from US$50 paid before.
ERC said while the electoral body is within the confines of the law, the price increase has a bearing on electoral participation.
“ERC notes with grave concern the amendments to fees for the nominations of candidates, accreditation of observers and to access the voters roll by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The price increases do not seem to consider the importance of ensuring access to electoral processes by all citizens of Zimbabwe.
“The newly introduced charges do not seem to promote openness, transparency and accountability in the electoral process. As the country prepares for the 2023 Harmonised elections, the Electoral Commission must revisit the reform agenda and accordingly advise Parliament on priorities to facilitate better elections in Zimbabwe,” said ERC.
The advocacy group said the commission should promote electoral participation than to introduce measures that impede participation.
“Key and pressing electoral reforms remain outstanding and must be quickly addressed. ZEC’s focus should be on promoting electoral participation instead of introducing measures that hinder participation. More so, the Commission should prioritize electoral reforms that improve the quality, conduct and outcome of elections.
“The following reforms should be prioritized: strengthening electoral administration processes including enhancing voter registration in under registered districts; undertaking comprehensive voter education and more effective information by the Commission with election stakeholders. Reform the ZEC looking at the commissions personnel, practices and administration. Alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution. Reform the conduct of the state media in electoral processes. Reform the conduct of the traditional leaders in political processes,” the advocacy group said.
Meanwhile, Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) has expressed dismay over ZEC’s move saying it excludes aspiring women from leadership positions.
“As a women’s rights organisation whose flagship program is identifying, mobilising, capacitating, preparing and mentoring aspiring women leaders for leadership positions, are of the view that the fees are a slap in the face of those with the capacity to lead but with limited resources to pay the steep fees.
“The majority of women in Zimbabwe are on the receiving end of poverty and have historically been side-lined from economic opportunities. Women should not be made to choose between fending for their families and running for public office. ZEC must make sure the process is not discriminatory. The charges in Statutory Instrument 143/2022 and SI 144/2022 are not only deterrent to aspiring women leaders, but are also unrealistic as they are not a true reflection of the current economic situation,” said WALPE.