National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) president Professor Lovemore Madhuku has described the recent hefty nomination fees announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) as ‘ridiculous and unconstitutional.’
On Friday last week, 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.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Monday, Madhuku said the commission had no powers to decide on who stands in electoral processes.
“Our position as the NCA, that position by ZEC is ridiculous, it is totally unacceptable, it is unconstitutional, and it is undemocratic and ZEC has no powers to be involved in such a fundamental decision regarding who stands and who does not stand as a candidate in an election.
“It is completely inconceivable that if a Constitution says that every Zimbabwean citizen is entitled to vote, to hold public office if they are elected that in itself is a clear Constitutional right that would be exercisable by any Zimbabwean who wishes to be doing so, to imagine that you have to put a monetary requirement means that there is a misunderstanding of what these nomination processes are,” said Madhuku.
He said the hefty fees will put off young people at a time they are being encouraged to stand for public offices adding that traditional parties have different sources of financing.
“How many young people are able to afford those fees when we encourage people to stand for office, it means that the democratic processes are going to be restricted to those that have the resources. We know that if you want to expand the democratic space allow everyone coming from the lowest level in society to the highest level to be able to participate in electoral processes.
“It will restrict democratic space to the two dominant political parties, our agenda in the NCA is to expand democracy by ensuring that we have a multi-party system so it requires participation by many political parties, I think that the ruling Zanu PF party will be funded easily, they easily get that money, they have resources to do that they are funded by many corrupt people in this country who fund Zanu PF, just two corrupt business people will be able to fund Zanu PF all expenses.
“Our other dominant colleagues have so many friends around the world and I read on tweeter with many saying they will raise the money but for rest of us we have read people and we do not agree with perception that for us to enjoy our rights as citizens we have to get the approval of other citizens. I have a right to stand as a presidential candidate and I don’t want to negotiate that right,” he said.