The leader of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Lovemore Madhuku, says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has no power to charge candidate nomination fees.
Arguably, the majority of opposition political parties have criticised ZEC for setting candidate nomination fees at US$20 000, US$1 000 and US$200 for aspiring presidential, Members of Parliament, and councillors respectively.
Speaking during a press briefing held in Harare on Monday, Madhuku said ZEC cannot make fundamental decisions regarding who can be candidates.
He added that individuals have political rights guaranteed in Zimbabwe’s Constitution (Section 67) to campaign for office and not to be shut out of electoral processes. Said Madhuku:
Who is ZEC to be coming up with these decisions? These decisions ought to be made in the constitution as to who qualifies.
Our constitution does not say amounts that have to be paid as it just talks about the requirements one must meet to contest.
Even when you go through the Electoral Act it provides for some nominal fees that ought to be paid but what ZEC has done is substantive.
It’s a power ZEC is exercising as if it were a legislative body yet it doesn’t have the power to do that.
If we allow ZEC to have that power, then there will be no need for us to have a parliament.
Surely the regulations that ZEC has brought are the kind of regulations that ought to be debated by the public and there was no such public debate.
No Zimbabwean was ever asked to express a view. We didn’t even know this was in the pipeline.
Madhuku claimed that ZEC was taking Zimbabwe back to the dark years of the colonial era when a 1961 constitution disenfranchised black people because they did not have properties to qualify as voters. He said:
The colonial constitution would pretend Blacks were allowed to vote and were allowed to be MPs but one had to show a property qualification and own something.
It was known Blacks would not own that property. If you have US$20 000, this is a property qualification where you show you have some money.
We have already fought for these rights. ZEC must simply run elections not for them to go this far.
Our blame goes straight and exclusively to ZEC. We believe in this case; it misunderstood its powers and that’s a sign of incompetence.
… Our position as the NCA is this is ridiculous, totally unacceptable, unconstitutional and undemocratic.