The nomination fees set or proposed by Electoral Commission of Zambia are unacceptable.
They really demonstrate a failure to understand the purpose and meaning of democratic elections.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia has announced an increase of nomination fees of male presidential candidates from K60,000 to K150,000 while women and the disabled will now have to pay K120,000.
The other increments are on parliamentary candidates which have risen from K7,500 to K25,000 for men while women, youth and disabled is K20,000.
For those aspiring for council chairperson will now have to pay K10,000 from K2,500 for men while women, youth and the disabled nomination has been pegged at K7,500.
Male councillors nomination fee which was at K750 now goes to K2,500 for cities while women, youth and children will now have to pay K2,000.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia has clearly failed to understand the essence of elections.
Elections make a fundamental contribution to democratic governance. Because direct democracy – a form of government in which political decisions are made directly by the entire body of qualified citizens – is impractical in most modern societies, democratic government must be conducted through representatives. Elections enable voters to select leaders and to hold them accountable for their performance in office.
Elections also reinforce the stability and legitimacy of the political community.
Elections link citizens to each other and thereby confirm the viability of the polity. As a result, elections help to facilitate social and political integration.
Finally, elections serve a self-actualising purpose by confirming the worth and dignity of individual citizens as human beings. Whatever other needs voters may have, participation in an election serves to reinforce their self-esteem and self-respect. Voting gives people an opportunity to have their say and, through expressing partisanship, to satisfy their need to feel a sense of belonging. Even nonvoting satisfies the need of some people to express their alienation from the political community. For precisely these reasons, the long battle for the right to vote and the demand for equality in electoral participation can be viewed as the manifestation of a profound human craving for personal fulfillment.
Elections have a ritualistic aspect. Elections and the campaigns preceding them are dramatic events that are accompanied by rallies, banners, posters, buttons, headlines, and television coverage, all of which call attention to the importance of participation in the event. Candidates, political parties, and interest groups representing diverse objectives invoke the symbols of nationalism or patriotism, reform or revolution, past glory or future promise. Elections are events that, by arousing emotions and channeling them toward collective symbols, break the monotony of daily life and focus attention on the common fate.
Clearly, elections are needed by, and are for benefit of, society. They are not for the sole benefit of the candidates and their supporters. Making the candidates pay such high participation fees to the Electoral Commission of Zambia undermines the purpose and meaning of elections.
And moreover, elections are not a fundraising venture for the Electoral Commission of Zambia. These fees must be immediately withdrawn.
The ideal situation is that of no nomination fees at all.