'Aliens' voting rights reinstated: Tsvangirai

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured) has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to ensure that citizens hitherto disenfranchised as aliens are registered as voters in line with the new constitution in the offing.

Tsvangirai’s political advisor, Alex Magaisa, told journalists after the PM’s meeting with visiting Swedish minister of International Development and Co-operation on Monday that the premier wants the elections body to ensure a comprehensive voter registration process.

Tsvangirai wants Zec to ensure that thousands of citizens disenfranchised by the Lancaster House Constitution get a chance to exercise their democratic right.

 “The PM impressed upon the Swedish minister that apart from the issue of violence, the single most important issue for his MDC is the voter registration exercise and a clean voters’ roll,” Magaisa said.

“Principals have agreed in principle that there should be a comprehensive audit of the voters’ roll to do away with irregularities and ensure universal suffrage that includes people previously deemed aliens especially in the farming communities and we hope Zec will co-operate in this endeavour.”

Magaisa warned that failure by Zec to ensure aliens are given easy access to the voter registration process would dent the chances of the country holding a credible and internationally recognised election.

“The PM has made it clear that without a credible voters’ roll, the credibility and legitimacy of the election could be severely affected. We must deal with both the perception and reality that the voters’ roll is a mess,” he warned.

Most people whose parents or grandparents were born in neighbouring countries, such as Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, lost their right to vote in Zimbabwe as the previous Zanu PF government disenfranchised people of foreign origin.

Displaced white farmers were also stripped of their citizenship and consequently their right to vote in the country’s elections since 2000.

However, the new constitution — if adopted — will see the restoration of the voting rights of the so-called aliens.

The draft has come up with three categories for citizenship namely citizen by birth, by descent and by registration.

It also allows dual citizenship in some instances and is expected to pave way for children of thousands of Zimbabweans who fled the country at the height of the political and economic crisis to claim citizenship.

The new draft charter is expected to be ratified in the forthcoming referendum set for March 16, before Parliament assents to the constitutional bill. - Mugove Tafirenyika

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.