CSO petitions Sadc over diaspora vote


THE Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative has petitioned chairperson of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs to force Zimbabwe to allow diasporans to vote in next year’s polls.

The organ is chaired by President Hage Geingob of Namibia.

The petition dated September 30, and signed by Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative chairperson Rosewiter Mangiroza who is based in Australia, was copied to Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema who is the deputy chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, directorate, and Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, among others.

“We are a group of Zimbabweans living outside Zimbabwe, and need to vote during Zimbabwe’s elections like our colleagues from some Sadc countries.  We live in the diaspora. Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa have their citizens living abroad voting in national elections, and Tanzania and Zambia are working towards putting in place mechanisms to allow their citizens living in the diaspora to vote,” the petition read.

“Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced his commitment to work towards putting in place mechanisms to allow Zimbabweans to vote from their domiciled countries in 2023 during a meeting with Zimbabweans on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018.”

The group demanded to know, the challenges, if any, in implementing the diaspora vote in Zimbabwe.

Mangiroza said there had been media reports contradicting Mnangagwa’s commitment to the diaspora vote.

“The Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told Parliament that there would be no diaspora vote. Then ruling party Zanu PF’s political commissar Patrick Chinamasa said the diaspora vote would only take place after sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have been removed.”

The diasporans said they never caused sanctions to be imposed on the country, and, therefore, that must not be used as an excuse.

They prayed for Parliament to make legislative and constitutional amendments to enable the diaspora vote, adding that Parliament and Mnangagwa have not responded to their petitions, submitted more than 21 days ago.

The diasporans said it was not necessary to amend the Constitution to allow for the diaspora vote, adding that only part of the Electoral Act could be amended to create polling stations to enable the diaspora vote.

“We humbly and kindly appeal to you to present our case to Sadc and encourage our President, who we believe may not have received our communication, to exercise his Executive authority and direct the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to draft the necessary amendments to the legislation and/or Constitution to make practical our right to vote contained in sections 56(1), 67(3a) and 155(1c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

President Geingob is yet to respond to the petition.

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