Zimbabweans based in the diaspora who have been pushing for the extension of voting rights to those based in other countries have been invited by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office in the United Kingdom (UK) to state their case, CITE has established.
The diaspora community has been engaging several African countries, regional blocs and the international community to make the Zimbabwean government allow them to vote from their respective stations.
“Last week we went on a 10km walk in London whereby we first started off at the Foreign Office in London to hand in another petition to them to engage them further about the diaspora vote. They are 100 percent behind that,” said Former Ntabazinduna Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni who is one of the lead petitioners on the diaspora vote on Monday during a Twitter space hosted by CITE.
Ndiweni said the Zimbabweans in the diaspora had also engaged the High Commission of Namibia including the Embassy of Senegal in London, chairpersons of the SADC and the African Union (AU) respectively.
“After 10 days of passing through our 10 km walk last Friday, we received a response from the foreign office here in the UK formally or officially inviting us over for discussions with them to see how we can take this matter forward,” Chief Ndiweni stated.
He explained these efforts were strategic and part of geopolitics, where international relations influenced politics and other geographical factors.
“As I said we chose to engage the foreign office here in the UK strategically because they have an international network. It is not bowing down to our ex-colonial masters. It is not about kneeling down before them. No this is geopolitics and in geopolitics you look around and say internationally who are the movers and the shakers who can get the ear of the AU and SADC? Who has influence in the UN?”
He said these lobbying efforts have paid off, as they would now discuss the diaspora vote matter with the UK foreign office.
The former chief has already announced that Zimbabweans based abroad will vote in an independent diaspora vote without the inclusion of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or the government.
“More importantly we want to set the tone right now to say when the independent diaspora vote is done independently the UK, the AU, SADC and UN will recognise that election. We want to cultivate the view that they will recognise it, put their stamp on it so on that disputed day of election night, it is then that for the very first time in 42 years we will hear the voice of the diaspora.”
He added that the diaspora were a large constituency, which deserved to be heard.
“In 2018, the total number of people who voted was only 4.8 million yet over five million were denied the right to vote purely because the acting information commissar, Patrick Chinamasa, said ‘we refuse the diaspora vote because we feel our candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa will lose that vote.’ That is totally unacceptable!” he argued.
“You cannot deny people an election because you feel your candidate will lose. It is like training for athletics but then saying, ‘no one will run that race because I feel you will beat me.’ That is how ludicrous that position is.”