NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili says the revised nomination fees by the Electoral Commission of Zambia remain unreasonably high and unnecessary.
And MMD president Nevers Mumba says ECZ should clearly explain the reason for hiking nomination fees.
In an interview Kambwili said leadership should not only be a preserve for the rich and corrupt, arguing that the K95,000 nomination fee needed for one to stand as President was meant to deter people from participating in leadership.
“Those fees are unreasonable and unnecessary and they are only meant to deter the poor people from participating in the leadership of this country. K95,000 is a pension for some people in Zambia. Some civil servants worked for 20 to 30 years to come and earn K95,000, now you expect a civil servant who wants to be President to go and get their pension money and pay for nomination. Is that reasonable? Politics must not be the reserve for the rich and the corrupt because surely to pay K95,000 somebody must be rich or they have obtained money corruptly. Today the economy is biting for anybody to put the nomination fee at K95,000, which is equal to the pension of some people after working for 30 years. It is an insult to the poor people and an insult to the people of Zambia. It is a very unreasonable decision,” Kambwili said.
He said it was wrong for the ECZ to use the election process to generate income for the country.
“There are a lot of poor people who are very intelligent and wise but they don’t have the money, are you telling me that such people should not vie for the position of Presidency? Should not vie for position of MP, should not become councillors? The Electoral Commission of Zambia was established by an Act of Parliament to run elections on behalf of the people of Zambia and their source of funding is very clear and instructive in that Act; it shall be funded by treasury [and] through grants. It is not a business, it is not a cash generating venture for the state. Its job is to organise elections,” he said.
“When there are elections, they prepare a budget and take it to the Ministry of Finance. More often than note we have been assisted by donors in running the elections. Since when was ECZ defined as a body to raise its own money to hold elections. So this nonsense of saying running elections is expensive, it is not their duty to raise money, the money is supposed to be raised by the state through the treasury. Whoever is behind this just wants to deter certain people from exercising their rights to run for elections.”
Kambwili said the nomination fees should be reduced to a maximum of K5,000 to enable people participate in the election.
“The nomination fees for the President, my take is that it must be K5,000. There are certain benchmarks that you can set for a political party to sponsor a President; how many members they should have? The structures that they should have all over the country; but you cannot go and deter people from running using fees. You will end up being ruled by a crook just because he is able to raise K95 000 and a genuine clean person doesn’t run for office because he can’t afford the higher fees. So for me the nomination fees for the President should be K5,000, MPs K500, councillors K50,” said Kambwili.
And Mumba accused ECZ of not consulting political parties before arriving at the revised nomination fees.
“We have condemned this behaviour of the ECZ . This sector of our society called ECZ is one of the most sensitive sectors in most African governments; they are the sources of war, they are sources of conflict. We have advised our ECZ time after time that this must be a consultative process all the way to the end. They cannot sit in the board room and decide on some commercial figures as a nomination fee. What are they doing with the electoral process? Is it a business for them? They need to satisfy us and make us understand why they have become thirsty for such hefty amounts,” Mumba said.
“We don’t understand why they are doing that. We are in disagreement with their behaviour. Even if they bring to K2, the question will still arise why are you not doing consultations with stakeholders? Why do they feel like they have to be doing it away from us? Then we have to always fall behind and argue them back to normalcy, why are they doing that? We are here, they can call us, we sit down together and they put their case across ‘we need K200 000 from each one of you; because we are broke and we have no money to hold elections’, they need to tell us why they need all that money, we are not children!”
The current proposed fees for male presidential candidates stand at K95,000, females at K75,000, and K60,000 for youth and persons living with disabilities, while for Parliamentary candidates the proposed fees stand at K15,000 for male, K13,500 for female, and K10,000 for youths and persons living with disabilities.