Eleven candidates will run for the Zimbabwean presidency in August, the electoral commission has said, after several hopefuls were disqualified for failing to raise the $20,000 needed to appear on the ballot.
The election is expected to pit incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ZANU-PF party against pastor and lawyer Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), who is seen as the strongest challenger.
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The commission said late on Thursday that 11 hopeful candidates had been disqualified from the August 23 election, several of whom failed to pay the $20,000 fee to secure a slot on the ballot by Wednesday.
One of them was Linda Masarira, the only female candidate who had shown interest in vying for the office.
“I have been clear that the $20,000 is exorbitant, it is discriminatory in nature and violates the section that speaks to non-discrimination in the eyes of the law,” she said.
“Democracy should never be for sale,” CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere told Al Jazeera. “Nomination fees that discriminate against citizens based on their economic status and shut out the poor and marginalised violate … the Constitution.
“What’s beyond doubt is that ZANU-PF is continuously anti-poor and trying to close citizen representatives out. That said, we won’t be deterred,” she said.
Parliamentary elections are also scheduled for the same day.
While Mnangagwa and Chamisa remain top contenders to revive the Southern African country’s waning economic fortunes, an independent candidate for president has emerged in recent weeks.
Self-exiled Saviour Kasukuwere, a former minister in Robert Mugabe’s cabinet, will run as an independent candidate, who political analysts say is expected to attract votes in ZANU-PF strongholds.
Kasukuwere, who fled the country during a coup that deposed Mugabe, has harboured presidential ambitions before.
Mnangagwa, 80, is seeking another term amid an economic collapse, with the Zimbabwe dollar plunging more than 50 percent this month against the US dollar.
Mnangagwa hailed the democratic process as he filed his nomination at the High Court on Wednesday.
“Countrywide the process is going very well and it shows that Zimbabwe is now a mature democracy. This process is so peaceful and that is what we want,” he said.
Chamisa, who narrowly lost the last election in 2018, has said his party is poised to take over government this time.