New ZEC candidate fees ‘ridiculous and unconstitutional’: Madhuku

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has misunderstood its powers by imposing “ridiculous, unconstitutional, and undemocratic” charges on candidates seeking political office in future elections, constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said on Monday.

Madhuku, who also leads the opposition National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), accused ZEC of “incompetence”, joining a chorus of ZEC criticism.

ZEC announced last Friday that presidential candidates must pay a US$20,000 fee, MP candidates US$1,000 while senators and councillors must pay US$100 before their nomination papers are accepted.

Political parties fielding the full complement of candidates would be required to have at least US$500,000.

“ZEC in this case has misunderstood its powers, so it’s a sign of incompetence. Don’t attribute to ZEC improper motives. They’re genuine but mistaken, they’re genuine but lost, they’re genuine but incompetent,” Madhuku told a news conference in Harare.

“The way forward, as NCA we will first engage within the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) to have some collective position to ZEC. The court route is the second route which will come after we have exhausted the political route,” said Madhuku.

Public opinion has been divided over the hefty nomination fees announced by ZEC with some welcoming the development as positive measure to weed out “chancers” while others warned that this would reduce politics to an elitist pursuit.

Madhuku, on the other hand, claimed that ZEC had unconstitutionally replaced nominal fees with charges that violated the constitution.

“When you go to the Electoral Act, it provides for some nominal fees, but what ZEC has done is quite substantive, it is a power that ZEC has exercised as if it were a legislative body, it doesn’t have the power to do that,” the University of Zimbabwe law professor said.

“The mere fact that ZEC is allowed by the constitution to make certain regulations regarding elections would not give ZEC such drastic powers to change our political discourse overnight. If we allow ZEC to have that power, then there’ll be no need for us to have parliament because surely the regulations that ZEC has brought about are the kind of regulations that ought to be debated by the public,” said Madhuku.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have warned ZEC they are prepared to go to court within days to fight the new fees.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!