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Opposition demands diaspora vote



OPPOSITION legislators have called for amendments to ensure the Diaspora community votes in presidential elections, a practice common in progressive nations.


Contributing to debate on the Electoral Amendment Bill which was in its second reading in the National Assembly, the legislators argued the denial of voting rights to the Diaspora community was a violation of the constitution.

Kuwandana East MP Chalton Hwende said institutions like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) have been acting against their mandate by barring the diaspora vote.

“I think we must understand and appreciate the role of Parliament. We have a constitutional duty to ensure that the constitution of Zimbabwe is protected. The constitution of Zimbabwe is clear on who is entitled to vote. The people that are in the diaspora are Zimbabweans and they are entitled to vote. For us to sit here in this Parliament at 2222 hours arguing to limit the rights of Zimbabweans is pathetic,” Hwende said.

“We should not play to the gallery and always say that we are affected by sanctions; it is not good.  We cannot regulate ourselves and make laws that ensure that we have uncontested elections.  Even if the honourable Ziyambi [Justice minister] comes back to Parliament through a contested election — it is not good.”

Hwende said Parliament ought to play its part in upholding the constitution, which includes allowing tenets like diaspora voting.

“People are not getting enough salaries because of disputed elections. You are denying people to do a simple thing — just going to watch the printing of ballot papers. Parliament must do their duty and protect the constitution and ensure that the people in the diaspora are permitted to vote.

“Zec is on record that they are prepared to allow people in the diaspora to vote. We attend Zec meetings as interested parties. Their position is very clear — we should make laws so that diasporians can vote.”

Highfield West MP Happymore Chidziva said: “Diaspora vote is important because all of us here have relatives in the diaspora and they have the right to vote.  They would like to participate in building their country.   If we agree on a polling station there, our people will vote for the President.  Other countries engage in diaspora voting here in Zimbabwe.  How and where do they do it?  We should allow eligible voters to vote in the diaspora.”

Pelandaba-Mpopoma legislator Charles Moyo said it was unfair to exclude millions of people from voting.

“We cannot exclude millions of people that are outside the country — we cannot suppress that right to vote.  I want us to concentrate on the millions who are outside the country and surely, the administrative issues will then come after, like the issue of polling stations — what is important is the number of people outside who must participate democratically in our country’s process.  Let us consider the number of people who must partake, especially on the presidential candidate rather than on the councillor and MP,” he said.

Although Zimbabweans in the diaspora are not allowed to vote from their host nations, their cash remittances back home are fast growing and helping to keep the country afloat.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has over the years come under heavy criticism for wanting to abuse diasporans by encouraging them to remit and luring them into investing millions of dollars in the country, while denying them the right to vote.

Meanwhile, total international remittances rose to US$2.8bn from US$2.4bn.
The Monetary Policy Statement presented by Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya in February this year showed that South Africa, which is host to millions of Zimbabweans, dominates the remittance sources with a staggering 40% contribution or US$583 375 863 of the remittances which came through money transfer agencies.

It is followed by the United Kingdom, which contributed US$361 681 114 or 25% of the remittances. The UK also has a large number of Zimbabweans.

The US contributed 11% of remittances with US$158 920 458, followed by Australia with 6% as well as Canada and Botswana with 3% each.

Malawi, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand contributed 1% each, while the rest of the world contributed the remaining 10%.

A total of 88% of the remittances came through money transfer agencies while 12% were channeled via banks.

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