Maputo shames Zanu PF

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF should draw lessons from Mozambique which has extended voting rights  to its citizens in the Diaspora, analysts say.

Mozambique goes to the polls on Sunday.

The former Portuguese colony, which has been marred by rolling civil wars, has opened four polling stations in Zimbabwe for its citizens here, according to the State media.

Zimbabwe is still adamant that its citizens in the Diaspora cannot vote even if section 67 (3) (a) of the Electoral Act guarantees citizens over the age of 18 to vote in all elections and referendums.

Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, told the Daily News in a telephone interview yesterday that his party was aware of the developments in the region but did not have a position yet on the Diaspora vote.

“We will meet before the next election and decide whether we will allow people in the Diaspora to vote,” he said. “We will cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Analysts said the ruling Zanu PF would emerge even stronger if it adopted some of the policies adopted by Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party in order to transform into a truly democratic State, including fielding a new presidential candidate.

Frelimo has picked Defence minister Filipe Nyusi, a close ally of current two-term President Armando Guebuza, to be its candidate for the election that will choose the country’s next leader, while the ruling Zanu PF has fielded one candidate over the past 34 years.

Frelimo has dominated Mozambique politics since the introduction of multiparty politics and a market economy in 1990, repeatedly defeating the main opposition party Renamo, its old foe from the 1975-92 civil war, in one-sided elections, but using different presidential candidates.

Tawanda Chimhini, director of Election Resource Centre (ERC), said his organisation had been advocating the Diaspora vote for long.

“Adoption of extension of the right to vote to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora is not a particularly difficult thing to do if there is the necessary political will,” he said. 

“Implementation of such an election practice needs to be premised on three key principles, namely — inclusivity, transparency and accessibility.

“While it is appreciated that restrictions be allowed in Diaspora votes, such restrictions should be centred on allowing the vote and not restricting its access. 

“The current provisions are not inclusive because some Zimbabweans are treated as more equal than others on the basis of their employment.”

The ERC boss said the Diaspora vote should allow everyone to vote regardless of who employs them and what work they do.

“The only legitimate reason to deny such a vote may be if the legal status of the Zimbabwean in the foreign country is not regularised. If the Diaspora vote is to be administered, transparency, such a vote should be guaranteed.  The number of registered voters able to vote abroad should be determined and verified in time while voter registration for such should be done in a manner that allows observers to observe,” Chimhini said.

Rindai Chifunde-Vava, director of Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) , said Zimbabwe could easily go the Mozambique way if there was political will.

Legal expert Alex Magaisa said Zimbabwe was lagging behind in the Diaspora vote mainly because Zanu PF believed that most people in exile were MDC supporters. There are an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.

Magaisa, who is currently working on an academic paper on dual citizenship and the right to vote, however, noted that over the past year, there had been a resurgence of Zanu PF structures in the Diaspora.

“Whether or not Diaspora citizens should vote almost derailed the recognition of dual citizenship in the Constitution last year because Zanu PF negotiators were sceptical over the political choices of the Diaspora,” he said.

“They assumed that all Zimbabweans abroad were MDC supporters, which was presumptuous.

“We have observed, however, in the last year, a resurgence of Zanu PF structures in foreign lands, particularly in the United Kingdom. This was driven mainly by Zanu PF’s ability to retain political control last year and a misguided belief that the tainted image of the farcical and violent presidential run-off election of 2008 has worn off the party.”

Magaisa said all the ruling party has to do is to relax the residential requirements in the Electoral Act, so that non-resident citizens can be registered on the voters’ roll.

“But as long as Zanu PF sees the Diaspora as a politically independent constituency which could vote against it, they will not extend voting to the Diaspora,” he said.

Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the Diaspora vote was now within reach and all that was left was for government to put in place administrative mechanisms to facilitate the process.

“This would be in line with section 35 of the new Constitution which provides that All Zimbabwean citizens are equally entitled to rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship,” he said.

“Denial of the Diaspora vote potentially violates section 35 of the constitution. Ideally, government should establish relevant mechanisms for the Diaspora vote without waiting for a constitutional court case to grant an obvious fundamental right.”

He said President Mugabe seems reluctant to get lessons about leadership renewal which he and Zanu PF could have learnt from Frelimo and other sister liberation movements like South Africa’s ANC and Namibia’a Swapo.

“Even within the Look East policy, the Chinese Communist Party has clear leadership renewal structures and policies that it follows faithfully,” he said.

Comments (9)

Yes we wantthose in the Diaspora to vote so that ZANU can have 200% majority in paliament. How many ballot boxes will be brought forward as coming from the diaspora. Not in a thousand years. Gumbo can't even explain why section 35 of the constitution is being violated, not that we expect him to comply.

Garikayi - 9 October 2014

Yu can say that again Garikayi. If they are able to temper with ballot boxes going as near as Gokwe, what more those for the Diaspora. Moreover they should concentrate on helping youths in major towns like Harare to register to vote as approx. 80% of them failed to register to vote in 2013 due to the bottleneck induced by the officials.

Zororo - 10 October 2014

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Zororo, God has a way of correcting things even if it takes time , the answer and the truth will always manifest themselves. Look at how the Chief Electoral thief, Lovemore Sekeramayi suddenly died. Allah Akuba, God is great

rudolph - 10 October 2014

There is absolutely nothing to be shamed about, if you are a Zimbabwean and you want to vote, come back home and do so and not in the backyard of those mi5 and hostile agents in the diaspora. Maputo is Maputo and Harare is Harare, so this article is idiotic,

reason - 10 October 2014

Which school did reason attend gents. he doesn't even understand anything about a constitution and constitutional rights. My God," kana tikaita vana Reason 1000", hapeno?

ndozvo - 10 October 2014

Zimbabwe is in the stone age and cannot be compared with Mozambidique, Zimbabweans are learned idiots.

Maita Manyuka - 10 October 2014

THIS IS A HALF-BAKED ARTICLE!!....are you in any way suggesting that Zim is all that defines "diaspora" for Moza??!! Are there no Moscans in Europe, US and other countries who should also vote??!!

ZVOKWADI - 10 October 2014

I would like to say first and foremost Zim is Zim and Moza is Moza independent of our brotherly relations and very close origins.We need to develop a system on our own before adopting it.Presently as we stand it not all roses with Moza political situation Frelimo is Zanu pf they rig elections apparently its common knowledge in Moza that Frelimo stole elections in 1994 and the following were carrying critical irregularities that puts at stake its credibility.Now there were incidents of ballot boxes and ,material stolen and others found in some nearby bushes some few days before the elections.what does that all mean?Mr journalist please talk about other issues not repeating the Zim story in the face of Moza as the two Zanupf and Frelimo are inseparable twins.These are liberation movements who share a common background and almost the same vision.If you look at the economic and political programmes you will give me a reason.Zim pionered principle of reconcialition at the advert of our independence and South Africa followed suit,we started with black economic empwerment and South Africa is in track,land reform programme Moza did it shortly after independence and we did it some ten years ago,however,following partially the Lancaster house agreement,in spite of the fact that other developments came out of confrontation with by then the British government in the name of labour party which with Tony Blair refused to honour the Lancaster house pact.if i remember when way back in 1998 when the late vice President Cde Joseph Msika was a Minister of special affairs went with his team to England to discuss and inform the british government of Zim intention to fullfill the pact by taking all the land it required which was agreed to be done 20 years after independence.the first was to be done 10 years me to finish off

carson Macate - 11 October 2014

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