It wasn’t constitutional to extend Malaba tenure but ZANU PF amended law, so why not do same for diaspora vote?

It smacks of foul deception, when ever the ruling establishment in Zimbabwe always hides its unwillingness to extend the right to vote to Zimbabwe citizens residing in the diaspora, behind issues of constitutionality.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

The recent comments by legal and parliamentary affairs minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, to the effect that Zimbabwean diasporans could not legally cast their votes in their respective countries of residence, on account of the Constitution not making such provisions – was another in a long line of lame laughable excuses that reek of a regime festering in disgusting fear of losing elections, should the millions of compatriots in foreign lands be permitted to participate.

Otherwise, why else would the ruling elite portray the process of enabling our fellow countrymen and women in the diaspora – who reluctantly left their beloved motherland, as a result of the Zimbabwe government’s deplorable human rights abuses, sickening corruption and economic mismanagement, which led the country into unprecedented hardships – an impossible task, as if the Constitution was cast in stone, and could not be amended?

Indeed, the current supreme law provides, according to Section 160, that the country has 210 constituencies, all of which are within the boundaries of Zimbabwe, and does not mandate the setting up of others outside the country.

Furthermore, it may be true that Zimbabwe does not have the legislative framework that regulates voting by citizens in other countries.

As the situation prevails currently, if a person wishes to vote, he has to be registered in a constituency within Zimbabwe, where he has to be domiciled.

However, there are certain pertinent issues that can surely not be ignored.

The same Constitution, in Section 67(3) states that, “every Zimbabwean citizen who is of or over eighteen years of age has the right to vote in all elections and referendums”.

This to me – as with most other Zimbabweans who value democratic tenets, and that the doctrine of “one man one vote” was the cardinal principle and demand of the liberation struggle – is one of most important provisions of our country’s supreme law, and a treasure of our hard-won independence, for which there should not be any compromising.

As such, it defeats all logic when the ruling elitist clique in the country hides behind constitutional shortcomings for their fear of competing in genuinely free, fair, and credible elections, and subsequently losing.

Who does not know that this is the real reason for such disingenuous pathetic excuses?

The law, any law, including the Constitution, can be amended – which is why the brilliant minds that crafted this sacred document, wisely drafted in Section 328, which explicitly deals with such matters.

Why is the ruling ZANU PF party faltering, and found wanting, in that regard?

Did we not witness, in shock and disbelief, as the same party rushed – as if being pursued by a raging angry hungry lion – in their panic to extend the tenure of Chief Justice Luke Malaba, whose impending retirement age of seventy years was fast approaching last year?

Did they not burn the proverbial midnight oil, in their hurried efforts in amending Section 186 of the Constitution – in order to save the man who saved President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s bacon, after the contentious and hotly disputed 2018 presidential elections (which, he won by a waiver thin margin against the opposition’s Nelson Chamisa), as well as sanitizing the November 2017 military coup d’etat that toppled long-term tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe?

Therefore, if the ruling party can easily spare no effort in keeping a favorite chief justice in office – by amending the country’s sacred law – then, why should it be difficult achieving a similar feat in ensuring that “every Zimbabwean citizen who is of or over eighteen years of age has the right to vote in all elections and referendums”, as prescribed by Section 67(3)?

Surely, is that too much to ask?

Are other nations around the globe not respecting this fundamental element of democracy and freedom – as they put in place all measures in ensuring that their citizens residing in foreign lands exercise their right to vote, in the relative comfort and convenience of those countries?

Why is Zimbabwe failing in this basic pursuit?

Of course, we have also heard the other flimsy ridiculous excuse of targeted travel restrictions imposed on certain top officials – which, disallow them from entering the US, on account of their despicable human rights records and corruption.

However, this makes absolutely no sense at all, since not only are these restrictions imposed by only one country (the US) – as targeted sanctions have virtually been lifted by other Western states, as the UK and EU – which renders all other countries on the face of the planet open for ZANU PF leadership.

Additionally, the US in itself, is not home to a significantly high Zimbabwean population – as compared to South Africa, the UK, and Australia, where millions are based – which, surely, could never be considered a huge handicap to the party.

I can further dispute the validity, and real impact, of this US travel restrictions claim, as a legitimate basis for denying diasporans their vote, on the fact that the ruling ZANU PF’s secretary for publicity, Christopher Mutsvangwa – the voice and face of the party – can freely enter the US, and is fond of holidaying in those parts, with his wife, Monica (another bigwig).

Who can quickly forget those images the couple recently proudly shared with the entire world – taken under the US flag, during their crisscrossing of the country they obviously love and admire?

What, then, prevents them from campaigning for their party and president?

It can not be denied that these lame excuses have become tired and worn out, which can no longer be taken seriously.

Those in the diaspora – who, by the way, have kept this country above water, and saving us from imminent economic doom, through their remittances, in the billions of US Dollars – have every right to freely choose who should led this country, and this right can not be delayed any more.

The ruling party is aware of this fact – as I am sure are some within their hierarchy, such as senior Politburo member, and Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda – who, not so long ago, attracted the brunt of his comrades’ ire, after his courageous proposal for the same.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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