War vets back Diaspora vote

HARARE - Government is facing mounting pressure to grant millions of Zimbabweans living abroad their right to vote in the 2018 general elections, with war veterans making the latest demand.

With the majority of countries across the world affording their nationals living abroad a chance to participate in elections, Zimbabwe does not yet, except in the case of civil servants serving on foreign diplomatic missions.

According to the country’s Constitution that came into effect in 2013, Diasporans can now exercise their right to vote subject to the governing charter’s alignment of the Electoral Act.

However, with government seemingly digging in on the alignment of laws that President Robert Mugabe see as weakening his hold on power, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa told the Daily News yesterday that there is need for a “sober, progressive and all-embracing Diaspora policy in keeping with the new open economic management that is the cornerstone of the open global philosophy”.

“While the issue of dual citizenship is a colonial policy, we are now 37 years into our national independence and we cannot continue to be treating even former Rhodesians as enemies so we need to be like-minded and consult them (Diasporans) on this and other issues, including the issue of voting, whether they are black or white,” he said.

Since the turn of the millennium, millions of Zimbabweans were forced to migrate to other countries in the region and abroad owing to an untenable economic situation in the country that largely emanated from the Zanu PF government’s mismanagement of the economy as well as a poisoned political climate.

Yet by deciding to be both economic and political refugees, the Diasporans, who have since been agitating for inclusion in the electoral processes, however, inadvertently disenfranchised themselves from voting.

Last year, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it would require in excess of $281 million to prepare for the 2018 elections, if the Diaspora vote was to be included.

Mutsvangwa added that the country is in dire need of reconstruction saying that the Diaspora plays a significant role in that regard.    

“We call on the ruling party, Zanu PF and the relevant legislative and executive wings of government as well as the other stakeholders to conduct an outreach that solicits the views of the full diversity of the totality of the Zimbabwe Diaspora as they are the most concerned and affected.

“The goal is to ensure that the Zimbabwe Diaspora and its offspring abroad continue to retain links and foster bonds with Zimbabwe as their country and nation of origin,” he said.

Our Diaspora engendered by years of internal conflict and economic underperformance is naturally the first port of call for skills, capital and knowhow.

After all, they are that familiar with the economic terrain.                 

“And they now have varied exposure from their many host countries of domicile. Their contribution judging from successful case studies that are India, China, Ethiopia all point to the invaluable contribution of a national Diaspora.

“It only makes sense to approach them with open arms and to shunt aside gripes of the past that have been overtaken by history,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network has also been calling for the a 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.

Comments (1)

someone has to save these warvets, they have had 37years and millions of dollars ,they have been given farms and taken diamonds and the country is still effed, useless old dogs now begging for help from those they helped kick out

mark - 22 May 2017

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