WHILE there may be some citizens who may oppose the recent decision by the Electoral Commission and the Government to increase the national election nomination fee from K1000 to K10,000, I wish to emphasise the practical need to increase the fee even more from K10,000 to K25,000.
The opponents of the fee increase primarily base their argument on the premise that it will breach Section 50 of the Constitution which gives right to every citizen to be given a reasonable opportunity to be elected to public office at elections.
However, the opponents fail to understand that Section 50 right is not an absolute right but qualified right because Section 38 of the Constitution requires the exercise of the right to stand for public office to be regulated or restricted by another law so that the right to be elected to public office is not “abused” by a citizen.
One of the proper regulations or restrictions of the right to stand for public office is the increase of the election fees. I have participated in the last four general elections in 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012 particularly in the Highlands and NCD areas and observed the blatant abuse of the right to stand for public office by citizens when the fee is low at K1000 or K2000.
Firstly, opportunists candidates who are driven by making fast money and who have no true supports from all the people contest only to solicit more money and favour from their financial supporters, political parties and other genuine candidates from both open and provincial seats.
These candidates are loose cannons and can cause serious damage to the genuine candidates votes by splitting votes and deny the peoples’ rights to choose a true leader.
They are opportunistic candidates.
Secondly, candidates who have millions of kina endorse other candidates in order to split and destroy the genuine candidates votes and decrease their chance of winning and also use those conduit candidates to secure extra votes for the millionaire candidates.
They are sham or conduit candidates.
Thirdly, candidates who have personal grievance against another candidates are hell-bent on contesting to upset the opponent candidate by splitting and destroying the supports and votes of the other candidates.
They are rogue candidates.
Fourthly, there are candidates who just contest only to be recognised and respected by the people and other candidates in order to satisfy their personal ego and pride.
They have no serious plan to win but just contest for the fun of it.
These are egoistic candidates.
Lastly, there are very genuine candidates who seriously plan to win elections and meet all the costs of their election exercise.
The genuine candidates will be very happy to pay the increased fee of K10,000 or even more up to K25,000 because it will reduce their chances of competing against the opportunistic, conduit, rogue and egoistic candidates.
Then, only genuine candidates will be left to contest against each other.
This is what section 50 of the Constitution really intended for.
The argument that the fee increase will place politics in the hands of a few elite who have money is misconceived because K10,000 or K25,000 is affordable at this day and age by any candidates.
Otherwise, political parties who endorse them will easily pay the increased fee.
The election fee increase will not marginalise and discriminate against the genuine candidates because election costs are quite high these days and one cannot run an effective campaign with less than a minimum of K100,000.
The fee increase is an important filtering process for separating false candidates from genuine ones.