Mixed feelings over Diaspora vote

Wallace Ruzvidzo Herald Reporter
Political parties have expressed mixed feelings towards Government’s move to assess the feasibility of introducing Diaspora voting to Zimbabweans living outside of the country, The Herald can reveal.

Current legislation limits voting rights to Zimbabweans outside the country who are on official Government assignments.

Any other Zimbabwean living in the Diaspora is required to physically present themselves at their registered polling station to cast their vote.

Zimbabwe has large Diaspora communities in countries such as South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.

Zanu-PF Secretary for Legal Affairs, Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, said Diaspora voting was not provided for in the Constitution and the right to vote was not the same as citizenship.

“That is not provided for in our Constitution,” he said. “The right to vote is not the same as citizenship. It is also enjoyed by those people who are physically at a polling station on the day of elections except for people on national duty on the day of elections. These can vote by post.”

MDC-T president, Dr Thokozani Khupe, welcomed the gesture saying as a party they had always supported the idea of affording Diaspora voting to Zimbabweans living in foreign lands, as they should be allowed to exercise their voting rights.

“As MDC-T, our position has always been that every Zimbabwean be they be in Zimbabwe or outside the country must be given the opportunity to exercise their voting right,” said Dr Khupe.

National Constitutional Assembly leader, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, said it was an important area to look at other electoral reforms and urged Government to involve public debates and input in the process.

“Diaspora voting is certainly one of the issues to be considered under electoral reforms,” he said.

“It must not end with feasibility studies, but must go further to involve public debate and people’s inputs.”

MDC Alliance presidential spokesman, Dr Nkululeko Sibanda, said Zimbabweans in the Diaspora should get their vote.

He said Government should engage in the process of aligning national laws with the constitution through an inclusive framework facilitated and underwritten by a third party.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, that an international study will be commissioned next year on the Diaspora vote.

“We want to commission a study to see how other jurisdictions are implementing the Diaspora vote and hopefully we will be done with that by June 2020,” said Minister Ziyambi.

“Once we have seen how others do it, we will then be able to make a decision on whether we need to amend the law to give effect to it or not.”

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