HARARE – Zimbabwean civil society organisations (CSOs) are planning to stage a protest over the Diaspora vote, as they up pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s government to allow foreign-based citizens to vote in next year’s elections.
The demonstration will be held in neighbouring South Africa (SA), where millions of Zimbabweans migrated to as political and economic refugees.
According to the Zimbabwean Constitution promulgated in 2013, Diasporans are allowed to exercise their right to vote, but government is yet to align the law.
Tajamuka spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi yesterday confirmed to the Daily News that his group, together with other like-minded CSO, were planning to march in SA on June 27 in their quest to have Diasporans allowed to vote in Zimbabwe’s 2018 poll.
“We are demanding that the government allows those in the Diaspora to exercise their right to vote, if that fails, those that are in the Diaspora must come to register and vote in Zimbabwe.
“We are pushing for both campaigns,” he said, adding “I can confirm that it is our project and other civil society organisations”.
He referred further questions to a point person in SA, who was however, not reachable at the time of going to print.
According to the programme, the march is set to begin from Union Building Circle in Pretoria and end at the Zimbabwean embassy.
The campaign is going under the hashtag #DiasporaVoteMyRight.
This comes at a time when the Zimbabwean government has been facing mounting pressure from several civil society groups and individuals to accord citizens living in foreign lands an opportunity to vote in the 2018 general elections.
Recently, war veterans added their voice in the call for the government to include the Diaspora vote in next year’s elections.
There are millions of Zimbabweans living outside the country for political and economic reasons.
Political analysts have in the past urged the government to align the country’s laws to the Constitution to allow the foreign-based citizens their right to vote in any election.
However, government has been dragging its feet on the process, amid claims that the Diaspora vote is important in bringing about change in the country.
Zanu PF has been on record claiming that it will not reform itself out of power, in move that will likely see it not making any significant progress in terms of aligning the country’s laws to the Constitution.
This is despite that several countries across the world afford their nationals abroad an opportunity to participate in elections. As for Zimbabwe, this chance is only given to civil servants in diplomatic missions.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) said it would require in excess of $281 million to prepare for the 2018 elections if the Diaspora vote was to be included.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network has also been calling for the Diaspora vote agenda which includes options such as litigation, with those disadvantaged by the existing policies petitioning the country’s courts seeking an order compelling government to allow them to vote.