Let’s vote against those blocking diaspora vote

Letters to the Editor

THE Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative salutes South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema for urging Zimbabweans living in the neighbouring country to make the trip back home and participate in the harmonised election next month.

More encouraging is the offer by the EFF to those in need of travel assistance to approach the EFF offices.

It is refreshing to hear an African brother encouraging fellow Africans living in the diaspora to vote to decide the governance of their mother countries.

Indeed, many African governments have been affording their nationals living abroad the right to vote from their domiciled countries, and many more are legislating the diaspora vote.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has dismally failed to fulfil his promise to work towards implementing the diaspora vote, a promise he made while attending the United Nations General Assembly in the United States in 2018 soon after being elected as President.

Mnangagwa ignored a letter we wrote to him inquiring about the challenges government was facing in implementing the diaspora vote and offering to help if need be.

He ignored a petition we presented to his offices after a hard copy was couriered to the Zimbabwean ambassador to Australia.

Parliament also ignored a petition we submitted to it on the diaspora vote, and Zanu PF legislators shot down suggestions for the diaspora vote during the Electoral Amendment Bill debate.

Sitting Zanu PF legislators have confided in Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative members that Zanu PF does not want the diaspora vote because there is a notion within Zanu PF that diaspora-based Zimbabweans are pro-opposition.

Having been informed by insiders within Zanu PF that the ruling party will use its parliamentary majority to block the diaspora vote, we have been encouraging those of us who go to Zimbabwe to vote to present our case to the electorate and observer missions, especially African observer missions from countries which offer the diaspora vote, so that they can help us lobby incoming legislators to make legislative changes that provide for diaspora vote.

The offer by Malema, therefore, comes as a fresh breath of air as it enhances our initiative to get Zimbabweans in the diaspora who have been denied their right to vote from their domiciled countries to go home and vote.

We will be consulting colleagues based in South Africa and encourage those who we cannot assist to travel to Zimbabwe to approach EFF for assistance.

Most importantly, we will be approaching Malema and other progressive individuals and organisations based in Africa for their support as we continue to lobby for the diaspora vote for 2028.

While we are a non-partisan organisation, we reiterate our resolve to encourage our friends, relatives and owners and workers at businesses which benefit from the diaspora to vote against those who have denied us our right to vote.

We appeal to them not to vote for Mnangagwa who has been quoted in many places, and even penned articles in appreciation of the economic contribution of Zimbabweans based in the diaspora, but failed to fulfil his promise to have the diaspora vote implemented in the 2023 election.

In one article he wrote in the State media, Mnangagwa emphasised that Zimbabweans living abroad were “equal to, and just as important and as deserving” as their counterparts living in Zimbabwe.

However, we did not see any effort he made to ensure the diaspora vote happened in 2023 as he promised.

Had he made an effort, we could have said he tried, but failed due to circumstances. Zimbabwe needs a President who practises what they promise.

We encourage our families, friends and owners of businesses which benefit from the diaspora remittances and their employees to vote against sitting Zanu PF legislators who are wishing to extend their terms.

Some of them heckled patriotic pro-diaspora legislators who argued for the diaspora vote during the Electoral Amendment Bill debate. - Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative

 Africa’s agriculture can reduce air pollution

THE problem of global air quality is one of the most significant environmental issues. The amount of greenhouse gasses and air pollutants in the atmosphere increasingly damage the planet and human health.

In response, world governments are taking initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants significantly to improve global air quality. Africa’s agricultural sector, in particular, is uniquely positioned to help reduce air pollution.

Africa is experiencing considerable growth in urbanisation. Studies show over 75% of the population will live in cities by 2050. While this current trend of urbanisation will bring many positive changes to the continent, it can also come with consequences. As cities expand, Africa’s air pollution problem will only get worse.

Air pollution has already taken a tremendous toll on the people of Africa. Since 2019, over one million fatalities across the four biggest cities have occurred due to health complications resulting from disastrously low air quality.

High concentrations of volatile organic compounds are a genuine threat — particularly because of the continent’s ordinarily high temperatures.

Because of this, it has become the prerogative of many world organisations to find ways to help Africa lower its air pollution. One unlikely area that can help is the agricultural industry.

When people think of industries that harm the environment, agriculture most likely isn’t high on the list. However, farming on a large scale takes a lot of resources that are not easily replenishable.

The need for more farmland is the number one cause of deforestation. Animals bred on farms require thousands of pounds of food to raise them, needing even more land. In addition, the agricultural sector is the biggest consumer of freshwater in the world.

All these factors can affect global air quality. Fewer forests mean fewer large plants and trees that can convert CO2 into oxygen. Livestock release even more CO2 through their bodily functions. Fossil fuels typically power farm equipment and vehicles, and produce air pollutants when active.

As Africa’s agricultural sector continues to grow, the problems presented by farms will become more pronounced. Africa also has unique air pollution issues in the form of large dust concentrations. The effects of these are worst in the Sahara region. The combination of agricultural expansion and droughts has caused the ground in the area to become so dry it turns to dust.

This dust can be carried in air and is fine enough for humans and animals to inhale, which can cause a wide range of health complications. Children and older adults are especially prone to potentially fatal respiratory infections.

Because of this and many other factors, world organisations have been promoting sustainable agricultural practices and technology in Africa. These include replanting trees and plants in the process of making farmland. Doing this reduces the negative impact of the farm on the ecosystem and the amount of harmful emissions produced. - Farmer

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