Zimbabwe’s parliament has sparked controversy by approving a substantial increase in fees for aspiring political candidates.
The presidential candidacy fee has surged from $1,000 to $20,000, a move that the opposition has denounced as discriminatory.
Fadzayi Mahere, spokesperson for the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the main opposition party, criticized the decision, stating that it violated the constitution and marginalized the poor.
Presidential and parliamentary elections are slated for August 23 in Zimbabwe, setting the stage for a heated political showdown.
The incumbent President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, has faced accusations of stifling dissenting voices, following his ascent to power in 2017 after the departure of long-time leader Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa secured his presidency in the subsequent year’s election with a narrow margin of 50.8%. Challenging him will be Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor who leads the CCC.
The exorbitant increase in candidacy fees extends beyond the presidential race, affecting parliamentary and senatorial aspirants as well.
The price to participate in these elections has risen from a mere $50 in 2018 to $1,000. Opposition parties argue that this drastic surge disproportionately favors the ruling ZANU-PF party, which they believe possesses greater financial resources.
Adding to concerns about democratic freedom, Zimbabwe recently enacted a “patriotic” law on June 1, criminalizing any actions deemed detrimental to sovereignty and national interest.
The opposition and NGOs fear that this vague legislation may lead to suppressive measures in the lead-up to the general elections, raising concerns about potential violations of civil liberties.