By Takudzwa Changadeya
Opposition political parties and political activists have deemed the prohibitive nomination fees set by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) exorbitant and unfair as they disenfranchise marginalised groups.
The fees which every candidate has to pay to participate in this year’s elections have shot up dramatically, making political grounds unlevel for the poor.
The nomination fees for parliamentary candidates pegged at US$50 during the 2018 election has escalated to US$1,000 for the forthcoming election.
A presidential candidate is expected to fork out US$20,000 which is up from US$1,000.
Political players have seen this development as a way to bar the poor from participating as candidates due to the high fees.
Observers believe the fee hike is a political stratagem by the well-resourced ruling Zanu-PF to retain opposition seats.
Zanu-PF currently has 110 out of 153 parliamentary seats.
Patriotic Zimbabwean Party spokesperson Shelton Mupambwa said the move 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 for the 2023 elections, but hints have it that the election will take place in August.