ConCourt Orders Review Of Nomination Fees For August 23 Elections

3 months ago
Sat, 10 Jun 2023 05:17:23 GMT
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ConCourt Orders Review Of Nomination Fees For August 23 Elections

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has ruled that Parliament should review Statutory Instrument (SI) 144 of 2022 which increased the nomination fees for candidates seeking to run for public office in the August 23 elections. The court said Parliament breached the Constitution by failing to examine whether the SI violated the Constitution before passing it. 

The ruling came after Devine Mhambi Hove, leader of the Nationalists Alliance Party (NAP), filed an application arguing that Parliament had failed to fulfil its constitutional obligation to consider whether the instrument was in contravention of the Constitution. Hove argued that the Constitution tasked Parliament to examine all statutory instruments before they were gazetted.

The statutory instrument increased the nomination fees for presidential candidates from US$1,000 to US$20,000. Nomination fees for the National Assembly and the Senate were increased from US$50 to US$1,000.

Representing Parliament, Tawanda Zhuwarara argued that the Legislature had fulfilled its constitutional obligation by considering the instrument. He stated that the application should be dismissed as it was trying to have the nomination fees reviewed through the backdoor by asking the Constitutional Court to sit as a court of review.

But the ConCourt bench led by Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza ruled that Parliament had breached the Constitution by not looking at whether the statutory instrument (SI) was in contravention of the Constitution before passing it.

The court ordered Parliament to review the instrument by June 16.

Opposition politicians criticized the increased nomination fees, arguing that they violate the Constitution, prevent citizens from participating in the elections, and disproportionately affect certain groups, including youths, women, and people with disabilities.

Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Citizens Coalition for Change), Dubeko Sibanda, for instance, argued that high nomination fees were not conducive to a multi-party democracy because they were unaffordable for many citizens. 

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the government defended the fees, stating that they aim to filter out non-serious political candidates. 

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