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ZNWL implores ECZ to reduce the proposed nomination fees

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The Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) has expressed displeasure over the proposed hiking of candidate nomination fees by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

The lobby has since urged the ECZ to consider reducing the proposed nomination fees for the 2021 General elections, saying the suggested figures are too high and will prevent many vulnerable groups like women, youth and Persons With Disabilities from contesting elections.

ZNWL Executive Director, Juliet Kaira Chibuta, says it is their suggestion that the nomination fees should either be maintained as they were in 2016, or not be increased for more than 10%.

“The amounts currently being proposed by ECZ are more than double what the amounts were in 2016.

“During the 2016 General Elections, many women failed to contest elections because they could not afford the nomination fees that were prescribed,” she said.

She also noted that Increasing the fees now would lead to many women failing to contest the 2021 General Elections.

“It is now a well-documented fact that lack of financial resources is a major barrier to women’s participation in elections and a drawback to the increase in the number of women in leadership and decision-making positions.

“Many female aspiring candidates do not have the adequate financial base to meet the numerous requirements by both their political parties and the election governing body.

“Thus, the proposed increase in the nomination fees will prevent them from contesting elections. This will be detrimental to the gains that have so far been made in women’s participation in political leadership,” she added.

Zambia is a democratic country and democracy is about inclusiveness and participation by all sectors of society.

According to ZNWL, the capability of citizens to contribute to the democratic dispensation of the country should not be hindered by their financial ability.

Chibuta added that increasing nomination fees will deter the country from benefiting from the unique contribution of vulnerable groups that include women, youth and Persons With Disabilities.

As a signatory to regional and international treaties on gender which include Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender and Development Declaration, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Zambia is obligated to guarantee the participation of vulnerable groups like women in the electoral processes at all levels.

Gender equality and empowerment of women is measured in part by the level of political representation of women.

Therefore, it has been suggested that all efforts must be made to ensure that women are able to contest elections for them to have access to leadership positions in Parliament and the Local Government.

“It is also evident that the country is currently experiencing economic difficulties due to rising debt, depreciation of the kwacha, among other factors, that have further been worsened by the COVID-19 situation.

“This depression in the economy is likely to continue into the election year.

“The proposed nomination fees will therefore put an additional financial strain on all aspirants, but more so, the vulnerable groups of women, youth and Persons With Disabilities,” she said.

ZNWL therefore called on the ECZ to maintain the nomination fees to amounts that can be afforded by vulnerable groups of women, youth and Persons With Disabilities.

“The ECZ should either maintain the nomination fees as they were in 2016, or not increase them for more than 10%.

“We take this opportunity to further implore the ECZ to consider decentralising some of the processes relating to filing in of nomination documents to reduce on costs incurred by candidates especially those in rural areas,” she added.

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