Review nomination fees for aspiring candidates – ZESN tells Minister of Justice

By Thandiwe Garusa

The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) has called on the Ministry of Justice to review the recently published nomination fees in the Official Gazette for aspiring candidates to promote the participation of vulnerable groups.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently set the fees for presidential candidates at US$20,000, members of parliament at US$1,000 and those of the senate and local authorities at US$100.

In a statement on Tuesday, ZESN said the fee does not promote voter turnout because it is too expensive for young people, women and people with disabilities.

“ZESN is mindful of the precepts of Section 192 of the Electoral Act, Chapter 2:13, which provides that the ZEC may make such regulations as it deems necessary, with the approval of the Minister of Justice, Legal Affairs and parliamentarians.

“However, the sharp increase in nomination fees has an impact on participatory democracy in particular, electoral participation in particular for special interest groups such as women, youth and people with disabilities.

“While the accreditation fee for domestic/citizen observers remains at US$10.00, over the years ZESN has advocated for a waiver for domestic observers to support election observation by ordinary citizens,” the statement said.

ZESN added: “ZESN notes that election observation is the foundation of democracy and is essential to assess whether the electoral process was conducted in accordance with the laws of the land; assess whether the country’s electoral framework complies with international/regional principles, norms, standards and best practices; provides an unbiased and accurate assessment of the electoral environment; provides recommendations to improve electoral processes; promotes trust in electoral processes; encourages respect for the results of genuine democratic elections and promotes openness and transparency, among others.

“ZESN therefore calls on the Ministry of Justice, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs to waive accreditation fees for domestic observers in order to improve the transparency of elections in Zimbabwe.”

Elna M. Lemons