via MDCSA calls for inclusion of diaspora vote | The Zimbabwean 09.05.14 by Sofia Mapuranga
Zimbabweans in the diaspora are calling for the inclusion of citizens living outside the country into Zimbabwe’s voting processes.
In their submission to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as part of the public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill, Zimbabweans outside the country recommended that people in the diaspora be given full voting rights as intended in the constitution.
Read a report by the South African Province of the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC SA): “Voting centres should be set up in suitably convenient places that allow citizens of Zimbabwe to cast their votes.”
“Voter registration should take place in South Africa under the direct supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and not the Registrar General as provided for in the law.”
Submissions by the MDCSA recommended that voting should take place using the normal voting processes applicable in Zimbabwe and not postal voting.
“Section 67 of the Constitution provides political rights to all Zimbabweans including the right to vote in all elections irrespective of where they are in the world.
“Section 155 obliges the state to ensure that all eligible citizens are registered as voters and have an opportunity to vote and any amendment to the Electoral Act should make provision for Zimbabweans outside the country to vote,” read the report.
Millions of Zimbabweans have over the past decade fled the country in search of greener pastures. A majority of these immigrants have fled to neighbouring South Africa which offered better prospects in terms decent work, better income and improved standards of living, according to the MDCSA report.
The report noted that an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans are in South Africa and these citizens have over the years contributed to the economic status of their families back home.
“If anything these Zimbabweans see themselves as having literally saved their families from certain starvation if not death during the height of economic crisis,” reported the MDCSA.
The government is making strides to formally engage the diaspora as seen by various statements from government ministers.
The Ministry of Finance proposed issuing Diaspora Bonds to fund capital projects and also harness the diaspora potential through tax and import duty incentives for qualifying investments in the manufacturing and other capital intensive industries.
Information and Broadcasting Services minister, Jonathan Moyo referred to citizens living in other countries as “Zimbabweans in the Diaspora with a lot of experience and resources rooted in the education they got here.”
“In due course, we will spell out not just the areas of opportunity but also the incentives available to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who may be interested in those areas. We will make specific policy pronouncements,” Moyo was quoted saying.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in its 13th Extra-Ordinary Session held from the 19th to the 25th of February 2013 made a provisional decision in Communication 430/2012 brought by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers in the matter between Gabriel Shumba and Others versus the Republic of Zimbabwe.
The Commission adopted Provisional measures that required the government to ensure that it puts in place measures that allowed Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote.
There have been attempts at justifying the exclusion of diaspora vote for reasons of expense.
During his budget presentation, The Minister of Finance estimated that remittances from the diaspora had been US$1.6 billion during the period from January to November 2013.