Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have petitioned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and government calling for the reduction of candidate nomination fees for the 2023 elections and pleaded for youth, gender and disability sensitive fees to advance inclusive representation in public offices.
The petition dated May 15,2023 follows the amendment by government in statutory instrument 144 of 2022, Electoral which stipulates that constituency Member of Parliament are expected to pay US$ 1 000, provincial councils pay US$ 100 with aspiring presidential candidates expected to pay US $ 20 000.
In a statement the CSOs which include WELEAD Trust, Magamba Network, Institute for Young Women’s Development Youth Decide Zimbabwe, Junior Court Club, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association and Accountability Lab Zimbabwe, petitioned ZEC to effect a downward review of candidate nomination fees.
“We demand that for the 2023 General Elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission urgently effect a downward revision of the candidate nomination fees to the rates that were used during the 2018 General Elections that is US$ 1 000 for the president and US$ 50 for the constituency members of parliament,” read part of the petition.
The CSOs also demanded that government set amounts which are affordable and sensitive for the marginalized communities.
“We demand that going forwards, the ZEC and responsible minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs must in consultation with citizens and stakeholders, ensure that any set amounts are affordable , gender, youth and disability sensitive,” added the petition.
The petition also demanded that the parliament of Zimbabwe and responsible government line ministries ensure that the electoral commission is adequately funded in a way that totally removes or ensures that prospective candidates pay a minimal affordable fee.
In the 2018 election, only six individuals under the age of 35 were elected to the National Assembly with a paltry 2.85 percent of young people in the parliament of Zimbabwe.
Young women and people living with disabilities are therefore facing the low levels of representation as evidenced by the outcome of the 2018 elections which saw women constituting 13.3 percent in local government and 31.5 percent of the 210 National Assembly seats.
In 2022, women and youth lamented the fees gazetted by ZEC saying they deprive them of a chance to participate in electoral processes as they are not well resourced to do so when compared to their male counter parts.