20 August 2022
UZA notes with concern the recently gazetted unrealistically high fees on candidate nomination, voters roll inspection and election observation.
According to a statutory instrument 144 of 2022 which amended SI 153 of 2014, ZEC announced that for a political party to field a presidential candidate, it now costs US$20 000 up from US$1 000, US$1 000 from US$50 and US$200 for senators and councillors from US$100.
Our party believes that ZEC is a Constitutional body whose mandate should be to uphold Constitutional provisions including provisions of the Electoral Act which guarantee political players and citizens the right to participate freely in the country’s democratic processes.
The ZEC functions must ensure that citizens have access to the voters’ roll and all the relevant material that support and aid a transparent, free and fair election.
It is a dark day for democracy considering that the new fees gazetted by ZEC are designed to disenfranchise the poor, young people, the elderly and independent candidates.
Such fees are segregatory as they will shut out the majority of voters from inspecting the voters roll and accessing it.
Such a development is fertile ground for a disputed electoral process and even taints the credibility of the elections body.
Besides disenfranchising prospective political players, the fees will also increase voter apathy especially among youths, women, people living with disability and the elderly.
Section 1: 3 (d) (ii) of the Electoral Act which speaks to constitutional provisions guarantees every political actor the right to reasonable access to all material and information necessary for him or her to participate effectively in the election process.
The Act also states that citizens and political players have a right to inspect and access copies of the voters roll .
“Every voters roll and every consolidated roll referred to in Section 20 (4a) shall be a public document and open to inspection by the public free of charge during ordinary office hours at the office of the Commission or the registration office where it is kept.
The Act also guarantees citizens that the fees prescribed for the purposes of subsection 3 or 4 shall not exceed the reasonable cost of providing the voters roll concerned.
Our party is appalled that the ZEC has gazetted such fees at a time when citizens are struggling to make ends meet.
This will make the elections process a preserve of an elite few thus defeating and violating the Constitution.
What justification does the ZEC have for such an exorbitant increase for one to access the voters roll or participate in elections?
It is equally sad that ZEC is pegging these fees in United States dollars at a time when high tanking government officials were quoted verbatim claiming that our local currency in the strongest in the region.
Democracy should be inclusive and should be for everyone and not a privileged few.
UZA is calling on ZEC to review these fees downwards and make democracy accessible and inclusive.
Every Zimbabwean has a right to participate in elections as guaranteed in the country’s supreme law- the Constitution.