Diaspora riled by exclusion

Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have expressed their anger over exclusion from the constitution-making process. The draft constitution is, according to the two MDCs, ready for the second all-stakeholders conference, after which it will hopefully be taken to a referendum.

Recently, the two MDC formations celebrated Zanu (PF)’s decision to back down on its outrageous demands over the new charter.

Following recent reports that the three parties in the inclusive government made a “unanimous” decision to bar exiles from voting, most of those who spoke to The Zimbabwean fumed at the betrayal.

Zanu (PF)’s decision to exclude the Diaspora is predictable. President Robert Mugabe’s party has for a long time regarded the millions living outside their home country of being MDC supporters. After all, Zanu (PF) is one way or the other, the author of their displacement. Those not hounded out by political violence are victims of an economic decline – both linked to Mugabe’s misrule during the past 32 years.

“Since the whole constitution-making process began, we have been calling for inclusion and even sent a document with our demands to the COPAC, but they still did not do enough to at least come and explain the various stages to the people and showed we were only valued when the country was burning,” said one asylum seeker in Johannesburg.

“I personally feel that the latest turn of events is a betrayal of the exiles, but it has been a long time coming because we were not consulted. We also called for dual citizenship, but that is not guaranteed because in the draft constitution, it leaves loopholes that could be exploited to shut us out,” said another Zimbabwean living in South Africa.

Ezra Maplanka, a humanitarian worker with the Southern African Women for Migration Affairs, said the exclusion of the Diaspora was “an insult”. “Copac did not even inform us of what was happening and the only meeting organised here was meant for the civil society at Cosatu House in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. We were not given the mandate to go and address the people,” said Maplanka. “Maybe the issue of us being left out is the main reason there are no guarantees about dual citizenship and the Diaspora vote in the draft constitution. When the country was going through difficult times, we were always there with remittances and we need to be rewarded for that.”

Limpopo-based lecturer, Farai Mudzembwe, warned of the adverse effects of leaving the Diaspora out of national issues. “It is disappointing that both the constitution-making process and the election have been left to those inside the country,” said Mudzembwe.

Harare-based political analyst, Lovemore Madhuku, concurred recently that the draft charter did not make guarantees for dual citizenship.

“There is still a provision for Parliament to allow or prohibit dual citizenship by birth, yet we believe that the citizenship of Zimbabweans born in the country should be a birthright,” said Madhuku, who is also chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, which is campaigning for a “No” vote against the draft constitution.

During the Copac outreach, the Diaspora, led by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, sent a list of its demands to the select committee, key to which were the Diaspora vote and dual citizenship.

Post published in: World News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *