Political parties count costs of 2018 elections

HARARE - While, there is no law that bars anyone from forming a political party, the cost of participating in the elections is expensive, owing to the money needed for participation, observing and accessing the voters’ roll.

For a party to access the voters’ roll, it has to pay a whopping $100 000, which is by far out of reach, even for the well-established political parties, considering that they have other commitments to meet.

Opposition political parties have already made it clear that the amount that is demanded by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is too much and is unaffordable.

This has pushed other political organisations to demand money from government that is provided for under the Political Parties Finance Act.

The government is, however, only funding those parties with representation in Parliament, while leaving a host of other struggling parties, whose number in Zimbabwe has ballooned to at least 118.

There are also allegations that the government does not release the funds on time, if ever it does.

There are high chances that over 90 percent of the presidential candidates out of the 118 parties will not take part in the elections, owing to the demands.

According to Zec, a presidential candidate has to pay $1 000 to register with the Nomination Court.

For those seeking to be parliamentarians, they have to pay $50, and those that want to be senators have to pay $10, while those aspiring to be councillors are not asked to pay anything.

Suffering Voices of Zimbabwe leader Welcome Shumba told the Daily News that they were pushing for all participating parties to be given some funding.

“The ruling party has an advantage in terms of resources, which is not accessed by other political parties,” he said, likening elections to a race.

He said the ruling party is “flying” while the other political parties are walking on foot, yet they are running the same race, meaning the elections are tilted in favour of the ruling party.

The restrictive figures will no doubt impact negatively on the ambitions of smaller parties in participating in the democratic process, as they lack a strong financial base.

This is over and above claims that some aspiring MPs within the MDC are being asked to pay $100 non-refundable application fees, while sitting MPs will have to pay $1 000.

Zec also demands $10 accreditation fees for observers, an amount which the civil society has said is too exorbitant, considering that a party might need to put at least four observers at each polling station.

This also means that a party would need nearly $100 000 in order to field agents in at least 9 760 polling stations across the country, based on the 2013 election.

The opposition MDC said it is looking to register 10 000 observers to be deployed at the registration centres that have been set up countrywide, but described the figure required as a top-line ripple.

Prospective observers of the biometric voter registration process from Africa were last year required to pay $20 to be registered, $50 for foreign envoys and $100 for international observers.

Local journalists accredited to the Zimbabwe Media Commission are required to pay $10, with their foreign counterparts expected to pay $50 to cover the exercise.

MDC, which is the biggest opposition political party in Zimbabwe, through its secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora last year, lamented the figure.

“It is unfair that observers should be asked to pay $10 especially when you have more than 10 000 agents,” he said.

Zimbabwe, in terms of documented data, has over 1 000 wards, which means a political party that needs a bunched national voters’ roll will have to pay thousands of dollars to access the document in its printed form.

Comments (3)

in as much as the number of candidates who want to contest for president is concerned ,surely ZIMBABWEANS are very GREED people.we only need just just 2 or 3 candidates for president WHY 118? THATS why i am saying they have to find the money surely for them to be recognised as serious presidential candidates .they must either join other big political parties other than crying foul for funding from ZEC OR GOVERNMENT.just join the bullet train .#*CHAMISAHASMYVOTE*

TOZVIREVA - 16 April 2018

Surely this is not real, how can we have 118 Presidential candidates in a country of less 16 million people? something is amiss here, and please ZEC please add another $100 000 to each party wanting to contest elections. Reason being that we can not anymore have these fly by night political parties that just there to split votes, our goal is to have a vibrant gov with hard working people who are not into politics to milk ordinary citizens. We made that mistake with the previous president ad this time around, we need to be extra careful. Only 2-3 candidates are more than sufficient for all voters. Lest we forget, we need a New Zimbabwe

legosta - 16 April 2018

A financial based system will only favour the ruling elites and other well heeled politicians. One option could be based on a minimum voter threshold endorsement of about 10 000 registered voters for individual candidates and 50 000 for political parties that will be verified by the ZEC and to also ensure that no single voter endorses more than two candidates or a single party. ZEC should also explain the rules regarding foreign assistance to political parties in order set the terms conditions and limits of their involvement in local elections. A case in point is the recent announcement that China will fund the multi million dollar provision of election related paraphernalia to ZANU PF. No one enquired whether it fell within the electoral laws or highlighted its potential to open the floodgates for foreign financial meddling in our electoral process. This donation has to be interrogated fully and its consequences considered.

Jaikolu Maison - 17 April 2018

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