Despite attempts by the opposition to reduce candidacy fees in Zimbabwe’s presidential and parliamentary elections, Parliament has kept fees at unprecedented levels. Set at $20,000 for presidential candidates and $1,000 for parliamentary candidates, these fees have increased twenty-fold compared to the previous elections in 2018.
In a turbulent parliamentary session this week, Zimbabwean lawmakers decided to keep candidacy fees for presidential and parliamentary elections at significantly high levels, despite challenges from the opposition. The fees of $20,000 for presidential candidates and $1,000 for parliamentary candidates have sparked intense debates within Parliament.
The opposition had pushed to reduce the fees, arguing that they represented a significant financial barrier for potential candidates, particularly those from less well-off backgrounds. However, ZANU-PF lawmakers maintained their position saying the high fees were necessary to ensure that only serious and committed candidates contested the elections. According to them, this would maintain the integrity of the electoral process and avoid the fragmentation of the vote.
This decision was taken after a recent decision by the Constitutional Court, which ordered Parliament to debate this sensitive issue. Lawmakers therefore used the opportunity to justify the high application fees, saying they would help filter applications and ensure that only serious and capable candidates participate in the elections.
The move also raises concerns about fairness and equal access to political office in the country. As the deadline for candidate registration approaches, it remains to be seen what impact these fees will have on Zimbabwe’s political landscape and the diversity of candidates in the upcoming elections.