WOMEN’S rights group Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD) has petitioned Parliament over the steep fees gazetted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for candidate participation in elections and accessing the voters’ roll.
The organisation argues that the unreasonably high fees inhibit women from participating in electoral processes.
Zec increased nomination fees from US$1 000 to US$20 000 per presidential candidate; US$50 to US$1 000 per National Assembly candidate, while those eyeing senatorial and council seats must fork out US$100.
They also pegged voters’ roll access fees at US$10 for each polling station; US$15 for the ward level voters’ roll; US$50 for the constituency voters’ roll; US$150 for the provincial voters’ roll; US$200 for the national voters’ roll; US$1 per page for the physical copy.
IYWD appeared before the parliamentary committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs yesterday and appealed to the committee to revise the fees downwards.
“Your petitioners ask that Parliament in light of its oversight and legislative role of protecting the provisions of the constitution and national interests ensure that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the responsible minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs must in consultation with citizens and stakeholders, effect a downward revision of the gazetted nomination and access to the voters’ roll and electoral maps fees and ensure that any set amounts are affordable. gender, youth, and disability sensitive,” pleaded IYWD.
“The amounts are out of reach of many potential candidates’ efforts to participate in the elections.
“Historically, the participation and representation of women in the political arena have been affected by patriarchal systems and structures that since time immemorial have hindered their participation and representation. Although several policies and laws were enacted to enhance the participation of women in elections and decision-making in Zimbabwe, the electoral playing field remains restrictive and oppressive to women and their participation remains low across all sectors of decision-making. These new exorbitant fees further marginalise the young women and women who cannot afford these astronomical fees, consequently closing the democratic space for women to participate,” said IYWD.
It is against this background that the organisation appealed to Parliament to ensure inclusion of all in running for elections by funding the electoral body and the relevant ministry.
“That adequate funds are appropriated to the Zec in a way that totally removes or ensures that prospective candidates pay a minimal affordable fee. The state promptly and urgently align all electoral laws to the country’s constitution to include the enactment of a Gender Equality Act which shall provide for equal representation in local government, Parliament, and the presidium in line with sections 17, 20, 56, and 80 of the state must further ensure strict adherence to the rights guaranteed in the constitution by the state and its agents.”
When Zec gazetted the fees in August 2020, there was an uproar from political parties, but the commission insisted that the fees would restore “order” in the election cycle.