$2 for every campaign poster 

Source: $2 for every campaign poster – Sunday News May 6, 2018

Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council will charge political parties and independent candidates contesting in the July harmonised elections $50 refundable and $2 plus 15 percent Value Added Tax for each campaign poster that will be pasted in the city, an official has said.

The $50 will only be refunded after candidates or political parties remove their posters after the elections. Bulawayo City Council spokesperson Mrs Nesisa Mpofu told Sunday News that the city came up with the measures to avoid wanton placement of campaign posters at undesignated areas and littering. Those, she added, who will fail to abide to the laws will be prosecuted.

Mrs Mpofu said according to council regulations, election campaign posters should also not be placed on informative signs and should be fixed on trees using a string for easy removal.

“Posters should not be pasted on informative signs walls and street light poles. All posters shall be fixed to trees by string or wire and no nails or screws shall be used. They (posters) shall be displayed singly and no two posters may be displayed within 100 metres of each other. They (political parties and others who stick posters) should observe (and) comply with municipal by-laws as appropriate including the following refundable fee, $50, $2 per poster plus 15 percent Value Added Tax (VAT),” she said.

Mrs Mpofu added, “Election posters are governed under the Municipal Elections 1958 Display of by-law or the Federal Elections (1958) Display of posters By Law which also governs other posters as well.” Bulawayo City Council by-laws stipulate that all posters advertising events should be removed within a specific period after the advertised meeting or function has ended.

Mrs Mpofu said political parties will only be allowed to start putting their posters two weeks before the election date and they must be removed two days after elections. President Mnangagwa has not yet proclaimed the date for the elections although they are set for July.

“There is a specific time frame for putting up and pulling down. No posters shall be displayed earlier than two weeks before the commencing date of the meeting or function. And all posters, together with the boards to which they are affixed shall be removed within forty-eight hours after the meeting or function,” she said.

However, a snap survey carried out by Sunday News showed that the MDC-T party led by Mr Nelson Chamisa was yet to remove posters for their rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo held last month. Some buildings also have posters that were used in the 2013 general elections and some of them were pasted using flour. The opposition party also risks being prosecuted by the local authority as it has already started putting up campaign posters for their leader Mr Chamisa. Ironically the Bulawayo City Council is being run by MDC-T councillors.

Also at risk of being charged by the local authority are churches and music show promoters who have become notorious for littering the city with posters promoting their events. They too often fail to comply with the stipulated directive to remove the posters within two days after the advertised event has ended.

Environmental Management Agency (Ema) spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata said election campaign posters, were turning into major drivers of litter, particularly in urban areas. Mr Kangata said the regulation of posters was the responsibility of the local authority, and his organisation was encouraging councils to apply by-laws without fear or favour. He urged political parties to use digital platforms more for their campaigns to reduce the amount of litter driven by posters.

“Posters have a shelf life but sadly after that no one seems to take care of them. They are left to fall off to become litter. We encourage political parties to campaign in a manner that is friendly to our environment. We encourage people to go digital. With social media these days one’s message can reach millions of people at a go,” he said.

Mr Kangata added that Ema would also engage political parties to raise awareness on reducing poster driven litter.