Open request to Makarau to recommend electoral reforms

Dear Editor,

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Rita Makarau

Allow me, through your publication, to challenge the Zimbabwe Elections Commission Chair, Madam Rita Makarau, to do the right thing and make recommendations to allow every interested Zimbabwean to vote as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In an recent interview she had with Daily News On Sunday published on 16 July 2017, Justice Makarau is quoted verbatim saying “Legislative reforms are strictly with Parliament’s domain but ZEC can make recommendations”. I therefore request that Justice Makarau makes the recommendation to the appropriate body which will allow every citizen of Zimbabwe, whether they are homeless and do not have proof of residence, or whether they are domiciled in the Diaspora and cannot travel to Zimbabwe to vote, to be accorded the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
It is a fact there are Zimbabweans who have been replaced from their natural residence and are homeless. The First Lady, Comrade Grace Mugabe, for example, recently replaced people who had settled at Manzou Farm in Mashonaland Central in order to inrease the First Family’s business empire. Some of those people are homeless but have a cocnstitutional right to vote. Where are they expected to get the proof of residence that will enable them to register to vote.
I for one, based in the Diaspora as I am, also want to vote, in the same way Mozambicans who are based in Zimbabwe can vote during elections in their own country. I have written to Parliament when hearings on electoral reforms were being conducted, and I was requested to put my views in writing, which I did. The Chairperson of the relevant commission then was Hon Jessie Majome. The Clerk of Parliament can confirm that I did send my written submission, with a request for those of us in the Diaspora who are unable to travel to the country to be allowed to vote. I also encouraged a few more others to do the same.
Reently there was an outcry from the opposition parties that you had drafted a bill that made proof of residence as a mandatory requirement for one to register to vote. I can blame it on you before I get your position on that. Did you draft that bill or not? If it was not you, who was it who drafted it? In my opinion, proof of residence as a mandatory requirement doesn’t make sense. In the country I live, my son who turned 18 years this year was able to register as a voter at a public mall, without any proof of residence. Of cause he provided his address, but he didn’t have tot provide proof of residence.If I may ask, what does ZEC want to do with the addresses? Is Zec going to send letters to every registered voter? There are some things that are very unnecesary, such as proof of residence, which Zec is insisting on. Please let us think in what ways proof of residence will add value to the electoral process in Zimbabwe.
I am bringing this issue to the atention of the UNDP who are giving some support to the electoral process in Zimbabwe, as well as to the International Organisation of Migration, so that they can hear the concerns of a disenfranchised Zimbabwean who, like everyone else, values their right to vote.
I appeal to you, Justice Makarau, to use the authority you have to recommend legislative reforms that do justice to the homeless Zimbabweans who do not have an address to provide in order to be registered to vote, or those who do not have proof of residence, as well the Diaspora population who are contributing a lot to the economy through financial remittences to the country and accord them their cocnstitutional right to vote.

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