The announced new nomination fees for parliamentary candidates have drawn mixed reactions from stakeholders, with political parties welcoming the gesture to reduce fees for women candidates while others have criticised the increase.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has increased the nomination fees for presidential candidates from K1 million to K2 million; while male parliamentary candidates will be required to pay K500 000 as their female counterparts will pay K250 000.
Male candidates for the position of local government councillor will pay K40 000 while the fee for females has been pegged at K20 000.
Announcing the new fees in Lilongwe yesterday, MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah said it was a legal requirement that the commission determines the amount payable at least six months before the nomination.
While lauding the affirmative action to reduce the fees for women, the 50-50 Campaign Management Agency feels increasing from K200 000 to K250 000 will continue to disadvantage female candidates who are already contesting from a disadvantaged position.
The 50-50 campaign agency, comprising Centre for Civil Society Strengthening and ActionAid Malawi (AAM), is advocating for an increase in female participation in the political space.
AAM executive director Grace Malera said in an interview that the fees were already restrictive and increasing by K50 000 would worsen the difficult position that women face.
“On the one hand, it is an affirmative action mechanism but on the other hand, raising it to K250 000 compounds the situation that women are in further,” she said.
However, political parties have welcomed the affirmative action for women, arguing it will help increase their participation in politics.
United Democratic Front publicity secretary Ken Ndanga said the fees were reasonable and would deter people who were not serious from participating in the elections when not ready.
On his part, Democratic Progressive Party publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi said parliamentary candidates should be able to probe government expenditures and they could only do that if they invested heavily in seeking election.