BY PROBLEM MASAU
CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has applauded Kenya for allowing the diaspora vote and said Zimbabweans living outside the country should be allowed to vote in the 2023 polls.
Kenyans outside that country cast their votes on Tuesday in elections to choose a successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Chamisa said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) should take a leaf from Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and allow the diaspora vote.
“Giving citizens voice. The right to vote is so fundamental. Zimbabweans in the diaspora must be allowed to vote @ZECzim. It’s doable. Well done Kenya and @IEBCKenya for enabling the diaspora vote,” Chamisa posted on Twitter.
Government has, however, shot down calls for a diaspora vote.
Under the current legislative framework, Zimbabweans living abroad cannot vote.
The Electoral Act only guarantees government employees such as diplomats the right to vote from outside the country under the postal voting model.
Observers told NewsDay that Kenyan elections have shown that people in the diaspora can vote smoothly if there is will on the part of government and political leaders.
“Government and the ruling Zanu PF are reluctant to push for a diaspora vote because they are afraid because they think that people who left the country due to economic hardships are anti-government. Speaker of (the National Assembly) Jacob Mudenda called for the diaspora vote and he was immediately censured by his party,” commentator Pardon Taodzera said.
Mudenda in May attracted brickbats from colleagues in Zanu PF after he called for the amendment of the Constitution to allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote in the 2023 elections.
The statement ruffled feathers in Zanu PF, with party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa saying the Speaker was offside.
In 2018, the Constitutional Court barred millions of Zimbabweans abroad from voting in that year’s July 31 general elections.
There are no exact statistics on the number of Zimbabweans outside the country.
The Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency did not include Zimbabweans in the diaspora in its 2022 preliminary census results.