Exorbitant nomination fees dwindle number of presidential candidates in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has nominated eleven (11) presidential candidates out of twenty-one (21) that aspired to contest for the country’s highest office.  The number of those nominated has dwindled from the twenty-three (23) that contested in the previous elections.

The main reason behind the reduction in the number of candidates is hinged on the steep hikes in nomination fees for presidential candidates, which was increased from US$1,000 in 2018 to US$20,000. There was also an increase in nomination fees in other positions as well, for instance, the nomination for election to a constituency jumped from US$50 to US$1,000, and party-list nomination fees doubled, from US$100 to US$200.

Secrets Known has learnt that the exorbitant nomination fees have had disastrous effects on opposition parties who have been unable able to field candidates at different levels in various parts of the country. Youth and women with leadership capability who failed to raise the required nomination fees have as well been locked out of participation in elections as candidates.

The action by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to increase the nomination fees is clearly not in line with Articles 3 and 31 of the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG), which call for effective participation of citizens in democratic processes and for state parties to promote the participation of social groups with special needs in the governance process, respectively.

Furthermore, it is also blind to Section 67 of the country’s constitution which provides for citizens’ right to elect representatives and the right to be elected, while Section 56 advances the notion of equality and non-discrimination in electoral processes.

It is clear that the Statutory Instrument (SI) 144 of 2022 by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on nomination fees was brought to stifle electoral competition against the dominant ruling ZANU-PF party by opposition parties. This in essence continues to undermine electoral democracy in Zimbabwe and does strengthen electoral autocracy.

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