Diaspora Zimbabweans Want to vote

Below is a submission I have made to Parliament of Zimbabwe as my contribution to the on-going debate on electoral reforms being handled by the Parliamentary Portfolio on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs following a green light from the Clerk of Parliament.

ParliamentHowever, many people I have spoken to based in the Diaspora were not even aware that they could make submissions, hence my prayer that the media should play its role to publicise the opportunity to all Zimbabweans based living outside Zimbabwe to exercise their constitutional right to express their views on their right to vote:
Dear Mr. Chokuda,
I wish to thank you for making it clear that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are entitled to contribute views on any issue before Parliament. However, I would like to register concern that many Zimbabweans in the Diaspora may not have been aware, and perhaps it is not too late to use the media to inform Zimbabweans in the Diaspora that they too can make contributions. On my part I am informing the view Zimbabweans in my network to also make written submissions, and hopefully a few of them will oblige.
At least a visit to one country is a good idea

I also think that it may be a good idea to visit a few capitals in countries where there is a large concentration of Zimbabweans to allow them to verbalise their views, just as other government delegations have been planned to travel to the same countries to vow the Zimbabweans living there to contribute to the economy. We cannot be seen as important only when it comes to our money, but neglected when it comes to governance issues. Understandably money is an issue here, but maybe a visit to a neighbouring country like South Africa by the relevant Parliamentary Portfolio Committee will be good enough.
Justice Makarau’s pronouncement is very unfortunate
We, the Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora, are entitled by the constitution to vote. It is sad that the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Election Commission has already made a decision that the Zimbabweans in the Diaspora will not vote due to financial constraints. Understandably, the country may be experiencing some financial constraints while experiencing many other challenges. However, a responsible Government cannot  deprive citizens of what they are constitutionally entitled to, but must always look at ways to accommodate the rights of its citizens. When there is drought, we have not heard Government saying people must starve because there is drought, but an appeal is made to the international community to support with resources to avert disaster. Similarly, an appeal can be sent to the donor community, and the United Nations, through the UNDP, can send an appeal to the international community for assistance. So Justice Makarau’s pronouncement that the Diaspora based Zimbabweans will not vote in 2018 is very suspect, and I demand that she be brought before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to explain herself and asked whether she is worthy of holding the position of Chairperson for the Zimbabwe Election Commission.
Mozambicans in Zimbabwe used to vote
I recall the people of Mozambique voting in their country’s elections in Zimbabwe many years ago when I was still in Zimbabwe, and that is the same right we are crying for, especially as it is clearly spelt out in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Do not worry about other countries that are not having their citizens who are in the Diaspora not voting – they may not have that right spelt out in their own constitutions. Let’s take the good example by the Mozambican Government, our neighbours who supported us immensely during the liberation struggle.
Our host countries, if approached, are likely to be able to create polling stations for the Zimbabwean Diaspora Community to vote.
Electronic Voting
Electronic voting is a common phenomenon in modern elections. That option must be explored.
Some Zimbabweans in the Diaspora may be willing to assist.
Some of Zimbabwe’s best brains have left the country, and can assist the election process in various ways. For example, the IT specialists may be willing to volunteer their time to develop an electronic voting system.
Start Planning for Diaspora voting hence forth
It is my hope that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will strongly recommended in their report that the Zimbabwe Election Commission start preparing for the Diaspora vote immediately after the report is adopted.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee should be allowed to mobilise resources for Diaspora Vote
Since Justice Makarau appears incapable of raising the funds to run the elections, I strongly suggest that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee be allowed to play a role I mobilising resources for the purposes of financing the costs of Diaspora voting.
Confidence Building Measure that will trigger Economic Growth
Allowing the Diaspora their right to vote will bring investor confidence. In fact, many Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora are keen to do business in Zimbabwe, but are just not investing because of the perceived bad governance. We can have many of these Zimbabweans investing back in their country of origin once they are allowed to contribute in electing a government.
Respectfully Presented.
Kennedy Kaitano
Zimbabwean Citizen in the Diaspora

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