Harare – Zimbabwe’s parliament has approved a steep hike in the fee presidential candidates have to pay to get their name on the ballot, a move condemned by opposition parties on Thursday.
Lawmakers upheld plans to raise the fee from $1 000 to $20 000 in 2018, which interim National Assembly speaker William Mutomba, said on Wednesday would not be subject to debate.
“Nomination fees that discriminate against citizens based on their economic status and shut out the poor and marginalised violate… the Constitution,” Fadzayi Mahere, spokesperson for the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), told AFP.
Zimbabwe goes to the polls on August 23 to elect a president and the members of parliament.
It is not just presidential candidates who will have to pay more to stand for office.
Aspiring members of the National Assembly and Senate will also have to pay US $1 000 – compared to $50 five years ago, according fees announced by the government last year.
Opposition parties argue that the steep fee rises will favour the ruling Zanu-PF party, which they say has more resources.
“What’s beyond doubt is that Zanu-PF is continuously anti-poor and trying to close citizen representatives out,” Mahere said.
Candidates approved for the crucial vote will be announced on June 21.
Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, who replaced strongman ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup, is seeking a second term.
His main challenger is Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor, who leads the recently formed CCC party. He narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in 2018.