By Thandiwe Garusa
The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) has called on the justice ministry to review the recently gazetted nomination fees for aspiring candidates to promote participation among vulnerable groups.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently pegged the fees for presidential contestants at US$20 000, members of parliament US$1,000 while senate and local authorities US$100.
In a statement Tuesday ZESN said the fees do not promote electoral participation as they are too expensive for youths, women and people living with disabilities.
“ZESN is cognisant of the dictates of Section 192 of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13 which stipulates that the ZEC can make regulations it deems necessary, with the approval of the minister of justice, legal and parliamentary affairs.
“However, the steep increase in nomination fees has a bearing on participatory democracy in particular, electoral participation especially for special interests’ groups such as women, youths and people with disabilities.
“While accreditation fees for domestic/citizen observers remain at USD10.00, over the years ZESN has been advocating for a waiver on domestic observers to support election observation by ordinary citizens,” the statement reads.
ZESN added: “ZESN notes that election observation is the bedrock of democracy and is key in assessing whether the electoral process was conducted in accordance with the laws of the country; to assess whether the country’s electoral framework conforms with international/regional principles, norms, standards, and best practices; provides an impartial and accurate appraisal of the electoral environment; provides recommendations for improving electoral processes; promotes confidence in electoral processes; fosters respect for the outcomes of genuine democratic elections and promotes of openness and transparency among others.
“ZESN therefore calls on the ministry of Justice, parliamentary and legal affairs to waive accreditation fees for domestic observers to enhance the transparency in elections in Zimbabwe.”