BY STEVE EPHRAEM
An organisation that mobilizes and strengthens young women and women’s voice and power to challenge injustice, The Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD) has petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe to repeal SI 144 and 145 of 2022 which hiked candidate nomination fees and cost of accessing electoral information.
The organisation took the Parliament as a last resort following matter put on hold by the courts.
In her presentation before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on 9 February 2023, Merjury Mhlanga, who is the Coordinator of IYWD, indicated that their organisation has registered membership of over 10000 active Young Men and Women.
“Honourable Members of Parliament, in the office of the president, aspiring candidates must pay US$20 000.00; 1,900% increase from US$1000. Similarly, aspiring constituency Members of Parliament must now pay US$1 000.00, 1,900% increase from US$50 – including yourselves honourable MPs, should you consider to run again. Proportional Representation (PR) party lists for parliament and Provincial Councils must pay US$100.
“The hiking of such fees disproportionately disadvantages Young Women and Women by increasing the cost of exercising their constitutional rights to participate in electoral and decision making processes,” she said.
Mhlanga went further to lament that the fees are exorbitant and excludes women and PWDs, a development which this grossly violates Section 56 of the country’s constitution which enshrines the right to Equality and Non-Discrimination and defeats the 2030 Agenda of Leaving No one Behind.
The IYWD Knowledge Management, Documentation and Advocacy Coordinator, Kudakwashe Munemo added her voice giving analysis of the Zimbabwean situation as compared to other countries in the region.
“From a sample of 9 countries, Zimbabwe now ranks highest in terms of nomination fees required for one to stand as a candidate for the position of President. It is almost 4 times that of Zambia which is the 2nd highest and is almost 10 times that of Kenya, which is the 3rd highest, a position which shows that the gazetted nomination fees for Zimbabwe are beyond average and unreasonable given that the economy of Zambia and Kenya are performing far much better than itself.
“Zimbabwe also ranks high in terms of the required nomination fees for one to stand as a constituency Member of the Parliament, followed by Zambia, with a marginal difference. Zambia, Malawi and Kenya provide gender, youth and disability sensitive nomination fees even though Zambia and Malawi have relatively higher fees compared to Botswana and South Africa. Should you require running for office as constituency MPs again Honourable Members, you shall be obliged to pay US$1000.00 as well,” she said.
Munemo lamented that the hike is punitive to groups such as young women, men, women and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
Vongai Zimudzi, a prospective Member of Parliament and #VoteRunLead Alumni presented that “It was my hope to contest in this year’s election, but the Statutory Instruments passed by ZEC which dictates a US$1000 charge for members of parliament aspirants is a hindrance.
Hon Wellington Chikombo agreed to the petition and said that ITWD issue was of concern since the Statutory Instruments undermined democracy.
Honourable Dubeko Sibanda concurred with the petitioners and went further to invited them to come to Binga North and identify young women and women to stand as candidates.
Hon Misheck Mataranyika who was chairing thanked the petitioners and promised that his committee would discuss the matter and give feedback on its developments.