via Diaspora calls for voting rights as precondition for EU re-engagement | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell on Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Members of Zimbabwe’s Diaspora have called for the restoration of their voting rights to be a pre-condition for any more re-engagement between the European Union (EU) and ZANU PF.
The re-engagement process has been gaining momentum recently, and last week, the EU indicated that over $300 million would be available for ZANU PF, as soon as the remaining targeted restrictions against Robert Mugabe and his wife are removed.
This is despite a lack of real change on the ground in Zimbabwe, including an absence of any reforms previously stipulated by the EU as the benchmark for normalising its relations with Zimbabwe. Such reforms included the holding of a democratic, free and fair election.
Last year the EU fell short of endorsing Zimbabwe’s July polls because of the widespread condemnation of the vote as a ‘rigged’ process. Among the many issues that has seen the poll being disputed, was the exclusion of votes from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.
People around the world are now being urged to join a social media campaign that urges the EU to reconsider its re-engagement efforts, using the absence of a Diaspora vote as a rallying cry. The campaign, launched this week through a video message by former diplomat Clifford Mashiri, urges the restoration of a Diaspora vote before re-engagement goes any further.
“The EU is doing nothing to persuade the regime in Harare to change its course, to change its disenfranchisement of millions, to comply with democracy. We have seen the regime in Harare reneging on various reforms and getting away with everything that is wrong. And they (the EU) have done nothing. Instead they have chosen a policy of appeasement to help Mugabe remain in power,” Mashiri said.
He explained that the elections last July cannot be recognised as legitimate, because it excluded such a large percentage of Zimbabwean citizens. He said the subsequent efforts by the EU to normalise its relationship with ZANU PF was very worrying.
“We are worried that the regime is being treated with kid gloves. They (the EU) are no longer keen to see democracy thriving. They are not worried about the economic implosion that is threatening and the 90% unemployment in the country,” Mashiri said.
He urged people around the world to take to Twitter to tweet and retweet the #RestoreZimDiasporaVote, as a form of public pressure on the EU.
“We call on all people to condemn what is happening in Zimbabwe, particularly the disenfranchisement of millions abroad. We call on the whole world to join our campaign. We want to get that vote before the EU can advance its promised aid to the ZANU PF regime. It should be a condition for the extension of that funding, if it is to be credible,” Mashiri said.