Letters:Zim must amend Electoral Act to allow diaspora vote

Voter being marked after casting a ballot

WE, the Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative, have submitted a petition requesting diaspora vote to be legislated.

The petition was delivered by email to Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda, but we never got even an acknowledgement of receipt of the petition.

Our petition was premised on the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, including item 1(2) of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, which specifically states that the Electoral Law may prescribe additional residential requirements to ensure that voters are registered on the most appropriate voters roll, but any such requirements must be consistent with this Constitution, in particular with section 67.

Several members of our organisation attended a Zoom meeting held on January 31, 2023, where persons participating were encouraged to make suggestions.

We hereby suggest the following:

1) Amend section 23 of the Electoral Act to distinguish registration requirements for citizens living in Zimbabwe and those living in the diaspora, enabling citizens living in the diaspora to use a Zimbabwean address they identify with to register to vote in the constituency the address falls under, and in presidential elections.

Citizens resident in the diaspora should be able to use any of the following addresses to register to vote:

  1. a) An address that identifies with their place of birth as shown on their birth certificate or other national registration documents,
  2. b) The address of a property owned in Zimbabwe,
  3. c) The address of a relative with whom they will live when they travel from their domiciled base to Zimbabwe.
  4. d) Where a citizen residing in the diaspora has participated in an election before leaving Zimbabwe, they should be retained on the voter’s roll for that ward/constituency, but should notify the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of their diaspora address;

2) Amend section 51(1) of the Electoral Act to enable Zec to establish polling stations it may consider adequate for the Zimbabweans living in a particular country,

3) Amend section 17A of the Electoral Act to enable Zec to register interested Zimbabwean citizens in the diaspora to vote at the Zimbabwe embassies and/or consulates located in their domicile countries, and at the Zec offices in Zimbabwe when they visit Zimbabwe,

4) Amend section 33(2)(b) of the Electoral Act to allow Zimbabweans living in the diaspora to register to vote in the constituencies they were registered in before leaving the country unless they have a new address in Zimbabwe;

5) Amend section 72 of the Electoral Act to include citizens based in the diaspora who are registered to vote;

6) Amend section 51 of the Electoral Act to include polling stations to be established in the diaspora.

The embassies of Zimbabwe in the countries with registered voters will be used as polling stations, and every town with 50 registered voters should have a polling station (Note that in the 2017 elections, Rwanda had 93 polling stations in 33 countries — in every town with 40 registered voters, a polling station was established);

7) Amend section 37C of the Electoral Act to ensure that election results are communicated to the National Command Centre immediately following verification of the results by representatives of the contestants in the election;

8) Ensure that the Electoral Act allows agents of parties contesting in an election in the diaspora to be permitted to enter polling stations to witness the voting process;

9) Ensure the Electoral Act is amended such that the diaspora vote is managed in a manner that ensures the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process as contained in item 7.8 of the Sadc principles and guidelines;

10) Make any other amendments as necessary to the Electoral Act to ensure a smooth diaspora voting process.

We trust that the Parliament of Zimbabwe will exercise its mandate to amend the Electoral Act to align it with the Constitution to give credibility to the electoral process.

We look forward to a fruitful engagement with the Parliament of Zimbabwe in this process.-Rosewiter Mangiroza,Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative

Is Zim still the Jewel of Africa or a cursed nation?

IT is shameful and saddening that Zimbabwe is in a mess, but its mining sector is highly diversified, with close to 40 different minerals.

These include platinum group of metals, chrome, gold, coal and diamonds.

In South Africa, there are currently 22 minerals being mined.

It is painful when we look at the number of undocumented Zimbabweans living in South Africa — four out of five of the almost one million Zimbabweans officially outside the country live in South Africa.

Botswana has the second highest number of immigrants from Zimbabwe, with just above 40 000.

The reasons for emigration include limited economic opportunities, political instability, poor environment and natural resource quality, unfavourable socio-cultural settings, and poor socio-economic resource distribution.

Now, in South Africa, Zimbabweans are facing problems like poverty, unemployment, overcrowding, inequality, health access challenges and xenophobia, with some having been burned alive.

The heartless Zanu PF government ignores the plight of its citizens, who have flocked to other countries in search of better economic opportunities and living conditions.

To hold on to power despite glaring failure and rampant corruption, Zanu PF has had to use despotic tactics, including clamping down on opposition politics.

Once a symbol of liberation, Zanu PF has run Zimbabwean politics to the ground.-Kudzai Chikowore

SAPSN welcomes Sadc Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit resolutions

THE Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN) hails the progressive decisions adopted during the Sadc Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, on January 31, 2023 and urges Sadc leaders to deliver on their commitments to bring lasting peace and stability to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kingdom of Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and the region at large.

We note the troika’s request for member States “to urgently respond to requests for critical capabilities to enhance the operational capability of the Sadc mission in Mozambique”.

We contend that the citizens of the Sadc region must not suffer further loss because of resource-driven conflicts.

Rather, we urge Sadc leaders to mobilise resources through instituting a windfall tax and energy profit levies on TotalEnergy and other energy and gas companies currently profiteering from high energy prices and unfair, climate-inducing plunder of our region’s resources.

We support the approval of the “Action Plan for the Lesotho Reform Oversight Committee to monitor the finalisation of the reform process in the Kingdom of Lesotho” and urge the inclusion of civil society actors in planned reform processes.

We acknowledge Sadc’s condemnation of the killing of human rights advocate Thulani Rudolf Maseko and reiterate our demand for justice and accountability for his murder.

We also call for the redeployment of the Sadc Panel of Elders to the Kingdom of Eswatini in order to accelerate efforts towards a Sadc-led national dialogue process and constitutional measures to establish a multi-party democracy.

We reiterate our demand for the demilitarisation of eastern DRC.

Furthermore, we plead with Sadc leaders to mobilise urgent humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of vulnerable populations and internally displaced people and to stop the rampant scourge of gender-based violence against women in eastern DRC.

We salute Sadc’s principled stance of non-alignment on conflicts outside the continent and the region.

We ask for the same principle to be applied in response to unchecked economic imperialism and contestations for our resources by competing foreign economic interests through the prioritisation of Sadc’s own industrialisation and market integration ambitions as outlined in the Sadc regional indicative strategic development plan.

We remind Sadc leaders of the deteriorating pre-election human rights and democratic conditions in Zimbabwe and urge the timely deployment of long-term Sadc election observers.

We congratulate Namibian President Hage G Geingob for his principled sterwardship as chair of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.

We call upon the incoming chair of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema to continue in the same vein.-Janet Zhou, SAPSN secretary-general

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