ZEC fees litmus test for candidates

Kaelin Choto

Businessman Raymond Kroc once said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” This can only be the safest litmus test to determine whether an individual has the ability and capacity to translate a vision into reality.

It is against this background that it becomes child’s cry to dispute the US$20 000 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) set as application fee for Presidential candidates who wish to run in the 2023 Harmonized General Elections.

ZEC also announced that an aspiring Member of Parliament (MP) will have to part ways with US$1000 while those who wish to seat in Senate and Local Council need to be amenable to the idea of forking out just US$100.

The development literary sparked rage from opposition circles who declared that “democracy was now for sale in Zimbabwe.” Certainly, we will be doomed if, as a nation, entertain the idea that everybody can be leader.

In all administrations, capability and ability determine one’s eligibility for public office. Even at churches, Elders and Deacons are chosen on their proven ability not potential to lead their families. The book of 1 Timothy Chapter 3 is dedicated to the criteria of choosing these church leaders. Timothy lists the qualities varying from the ability to lead his children in subjection with all gravity, adding that if a man cannot rule his house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

The same principle also applies in politics, surely how can we entrust our future in an individual who struggles to raise US$20 000? In essence the application fee rather should not be mobilized by party members but; should come out of the candidate’s pockets. If as members you are asked to contribute, just know that it is only a matter of time before that ship sinks dramatically.

Actually, these are telltale signs which the electorate need to watch out for as a means to detect and sniff out political opportunists before it is too late. One should not seek public office for personal edification. If one finds themselves in public office by chance, they often engage in all kinds of thievery, corruption and embezzlement of funds as they have nothing in their name and gravitating towards amassing personal wealth.

Zambia’s President, Hakainde Hichilema, speaking on same subject said, “Encourage those seeking public office to work for themselves first and create value, so they are not eyeing nice things when they seek public office. There is a clear separation between assets in public and private assets that must remain private.”

Ideally vanhu havafanire kujaira zvemahara or kuda kupfumira in public office.

 However, the recent war of words amongst Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) cyber trolls which saw them elbowing each other as they jostle for office exposed that party’s lack of clear cut criteria, ideology or rules of engagement to say the least. The discord was just indicative of the heavy presence of those individuals who wish to occupy public office for personal enrichment at that party.  CCC Secretary General, Chalton Hwende, made frantic efforts to quell the war of words and sought to apportion blame on ZANU PF, but that was just to be a dumb squib. The good for nothing open door and experimental policy is indeed harboring political entrepreneurs and are bloodletting by all means necessary.

One protagonist in the war of words who was accused by other activists of seeking office at CCC, Majaira Jairos Chibanda from Murehwa, lurched out of the cocoons claiming that “Democracy for sale. Nyika yedu yakanokorwa tsoka with someone who didn’t want anything to do with it…”  Given his ambitions and the outrage he sparked at that party, it shows he does not have a dime to finance his political aspirations and is just but a liability to the cause of democracy.

Majaira’s submission is not only at variance with Hichilema’s school of thought, but is ill-informed to say the least. One would at least assume they would take a cue from Zambia’s President and leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND) youth member who appears to be on the clear with the gazetted fees.

Conversely, 2023 should be different; we cannot have 30 presidential candidates. Zimbabwe is not a banana republic. The general elections should be for serious politicians, and as a nation we should by any means necessary avert a situation where even students of political science on attachment can try their luck at the presidency.

If one cannot raise the stipulated fees, they should just try other avenues of earning a livelihood. If anything, the electorate should take ZEC’s fees as a litmus test to check if their candidates are worth a chance in public office. Once one comes with a begging bowl, they should just ditch such dubious characters for they will only fleece them of their hard earned cash.