PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is mulling a review of the proposed high fees that presidential and legislative hopefuls are set to be charged when they take part in next year’s national elections.
This comes amid an outcry from aspirant candidates who have described the US$20 000 and the US$1 000 that presidential hopefuls and parliamentary contestants will pay respectively as exorbitant.
It also comes as well-placed sources have suggested to the Daily News that Mnangagwa is unhappy that the Justice ministry and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) gazetted the new fees without Cabinet approval.
Contacted for a comment yesterday on all this, presidential spokesperson George Charamba hinted that the contentious new fees could be revised by Mnangagwa, whom he said had taken note of stakeholders’ concerns.
“I happen to know that there has been an appreciation of the feedback from political society. I can’t quite say what course of action the government will take, but certainly the cries have been heard by the president and the State.
“Why don’t we wait until we hear the decision regarding the Statutory Instrument, which might mean either upholding it or revising it?
“The president has noted all the concerns. He was also surprised that people who normally brag as having friends with deep pockets are crying the loudest. But the government has noted the cries,” Charamba said.
He went on to take a further dig at the opposition, saying they should get assistance from their friends in the international community who had “deep pockets”.
“These guys have been always saying they have friends with deep pockets. This time they must summon these friends to raise the US$20 000 that is required.
“So, they can’t shed crocodile tears. What are their friends doing to help them?” Charamba asked sarcastically.
Earlier, sources in government told the Daily News that Mnangagwa and the Cabinet had not been consulted about the new fees, “hence the President is likely to reverse the fees.”
“The leadership, including ED, was not happy with what Zec and the ministry of Justice did. They did not seek clearance from the government.
“Mnangagwa was curious not mainly on the fees, but … that the ministry and Zec were not cleared by the Cabinet,” one of the sources said.
All this comes after authorities insisted at the weekend that there was nothing amiss about the proposed high fees, saying “democracy comes at a cost”.
Speaking to the Daily News then, the spokesperson of Zec, Jasper Mangwana, said the fees reflected the seriousness that was attached to both the office of the president and MPs.
“In some countries, there is registration and regulation of political parties. This process ensures that only committed parties and candidates are given the party status after being compliant.
“Even when they submit candidates, they would have been evaluated. That’s why Kenya had four presidential candidates only.
“Those vying for public office must show their commitment, as the integrity of our electoral processes is not independent of the integrity of the candidates. This is best practice around the world,” Mangwana told the Daily News.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi also said the proposed new fees reflected the seriousness that was attached to important political positions.
“Democracy comes with a cost. If you cannot put your money to the office that you are contesting for it means that you are not taking that office seriously.
“The new figures will attract serious participants. The presidential post, for example, needs serious people and not time wasters. The presidential post is certainly not for time wasters,” he said.
The new nomination fees for presidential, parliamentary and council aspirants, as well as fees for inspecting the voter’s roll are set to be tabled before Parliament.
“The Statutory Instrument (containing suggested nomination fees) will be approved by Parliament.
“So, they (opposition) can go there and raise their issues and say what Zec proposed we feel it’s unreasonable … if the Parliamentary legal committee considers that it can be debated in the House. This is not the end of the story,” Ziyambi added.
But Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, said the fees were outrageous and unfair.
“Minimum wage for a domestic worker is barely US$100. No civil servant earns in USD, yet they have the gall to introduce election participation fees of between US$1 000 – US$20 000.
“What justification is there for this daylight robbery? Why do you want to shut citizens out? Electoral participation is not a luxury. It’s a constitutional right.
“It can make the difference between whether or not a community has a functional clinic, affordable education or food on the table. It can’t be an elite, anti-poor & anti-people charade,” Mahere said.
It was the steep hike in the nomination fees for presidential candidates that was particularly likely to thwart a number of hopefuls — most of whom are little known and have almost zero gravitas.
In 2018, a record 23 candidates contested the presidential poll, leaving many commentators to say there was a need for the revision of the law to allow “only candidates with impeccable” profiles to contest. – Daily News