VARIOUS political parties say the proposed hiking of nomination fees by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is unreasonable.

In a statement, Wednesday, Patriotic Front secretary general Davies Mwila said the party did not support the proposal to hike, describing the suggested fees as discriminatory.

“PF does not support the upward adjustment of nomination fees announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). As a militant organization of revolutionary peasants, workers and intellectuals that believes in equitable participation in the affairs of our nation by all citizens regardless of socio-economic status, the Patriotic Front wishes to register its strongest displeasure with the proposed upward revision of nomination fees as recently announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. The proposed upward revision is not only elitist, but it would also be tantamount to the commercialization of participation in democratic processes where the destiny of the majority “have nots” is hijacked by a minority “haves”,” stated Mwila.

“Patriotic Front remains committed to the participation and representation in democratic processes of youth, women and differently abled persons as a matter of right and not privilege. We support their proportional representation in Parliament as proposed under Bill 10, and we further call for lower nomination fees in order to maximize involvement of the youth, women and differently abled persons in running the affairs of the nation. In order to safeguard our country’s democracy, we call for downward adjustment instead. Zambia must not be put up for auction to the highest bidder.”

And UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka, however, said his party was still on the fence regarding the proposal.

“We have to be very careful and we are aware that the PF is trying to use Zambia Centre for Inter Party Dialogue (ZCID) which is an extension of the PF so they want to use it to bargain the fees. This is why we will not rush at either condemning, agreeing or disagreeing. We are appreciating that indeed democracy has to thrive but we also have to put into account a lot of factors. We shall get back to ECZ with our proposals in the next few days once we make the necessary consultations,” said Mucheleka.

But National Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili said the commission should have consulted the stakeholders before proposing the fees as they were unreasonable.

“If we want to enhance our democracy and have the people’s faith in governance what is supposed to be done is that there must be consultations. Before ECZ came up with those figures, they would have called all stakeholders political parties, Civil Society and the charges so that these issues are agreed before they go to the ears of the general public. But in the nutshell, the prices are unreasonable and I think that must be withdrawn. There is no way…even the K7, 500 for the MPs is too much for a lot of people. So if we have to enhance our democracy, we must think of the decision and policies that we are coming up with in commiserate with the general earning and the financial status of our country. This idea of copy and paste will put us into so many problems,” said Kambwili.

Meanwhile, People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda suggested that the commission lobbies for funds from the government.

He said his party would be affected because a lot of young people would not be able to participate in the elections.

“The decision by ECZ to increase the nomination fees is not welcome. We don’t wasn’t to create a situation where democracy or people who should vie for positions in this country are those that are deemed to be rich. I think the idea of democracy is to give every citizen a platform to actually vie for positions in the country. One of the things they need to do is to mobilize funds from the government. One of the reasons why we pay tax is because they need to make sure that this democratic process is maintained,” said Banda.

“We believe this will disadvantage young people especially those who want to stand as councilors and MPs and for the ECZ to ask them to pay a K25,000 that is not fair. On top of that, they need to mobilize funds to do their campaign. We would like to call on the ECZ to be realistic and the fees to be revised otherwise we will be selling leadership in this country where the highest bidder takes the position. As PAC this will disadvantage us because a lot of young people will not be able to pay,”

Meanwhile, Continental Leadership Research Institute director (CLRI) Mundia Hakoola said the proposed fees would reduce the quality of candidates that participated in the elections as many people might not afford the fees.

“The proposed fees will also reduce the quality of candidates to participate as many might not be able to afford the fees making therefore comprising the quality of candidates that we will have in parliament and various decision making organs, already we have Members of Parliament whose level of participation in the house is very poor and doesn’t inspire any confidence to our generation and challenges that we face as young people,” stated Hakoola.

According to a proposal by the ECZ, a presidential nomination fee is K150,000 from the current K60,000 while a female presidential candidate and persons with disabilities will pay K120,000.

A male parliamentary candidate will be required to pay K25,000 from the current K7,500 and a female and persons with disabilities candidates will be paying K20,000.