New campaign to push for Diaspora vote

The Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Campaign has kicked off a fresh campaign with a declaration that there is absolutely no reason why those living outside the country should not vote or be voted for in the forthcoming elections.

Douglas Mwonzora
Douglas Mwonzora

"Millions of displaced Zimbabweans demand the right to choose who should lead their country," the ZDVC said in a statement. "Genuine ownership of the election results can only be achieved if all citizens have equal access to the ballot."

The ZDVC's call comes amid claims by Defence minister and Zanu (PF) Legal Affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa that the Diaspora will not vote as long as "Western sanctions" are not lifted.

Mnangagwa said Zanu (PF) was not able to reach that constituency in the run-up to the poll and yet the MDC was free to campaign there because its officials were not under travel restrictions, imposed on individuals in his party’s top echelon because of human rights abuses and electoral fraud.

The ZDVC said it would approach the countries concerned to relax those restrictions for a period of six months so that all parties can freely campaign abroad.

"However, the final disposition of these restrictions will remain the prerogative of the imposing countries. Our concern is that all political parties be accorded equal access to Zimbabwean nationals wherever they maybe, for the purposes of political campaigning."

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party has said Zanu (PF) and Mnangagwa must know that the issue of "restrictive measures" and the Diaspora vote were not linked in any way.

MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said: "The inclusive government was set up to give birth to a completely new society, a society that reflects a radical departure from our dark past. The MDC recognises the fundamental right of all eligible citizens to vote – this can never be treated as a privilege, and cannot be bargained for."

Decades of economic and political chaos drove millions away from home. "As if to further punish them the former regime quickly disenfranchised them purely on allegations of supporting the MDC," Mwonzora said.

The MDC says there should be end to the discrimination and exclusion of such a sizeable and invaluable part of Zimbabwe's active population in national affairs.

The Electoral Amendment Bill currently being debated in Parliament is no provision for the Diaspora vote, despite the MDC's claim that it supports the exiled community having a role in the forthcoming poll.

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