In a development that is not so shocking, but typical with Zanu PF, the Minister of Justice, Ziyambi Ziyambi, reportedly scorned the diaspora vote call, saying that there were no external constituencies to justify the diaspora vote. The same Ziyambi Ziyambi in 2019 revealed that an international study would be commissioned the following year to establish how other jurisdictions are implementing the diaspora vote, adding that they expected to complete the study by June of 2020.
And it has not just been Ziyambi Ziyambi who has spoken about the need for diaspora vote. In 2018 while addressing Zimbabweans living in the United States on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa told them that Government was working on implementing the diaspora vote in 2023.
The need for the diaspora vote can never be overemphasized. Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi certainly needs to have his head examined for making such a stupid statement that the diaspora Zimbabweans cannot vote because none of Zimbabwe’s 210 electoral constituencies are located outside the country’s physical boarders. Ziyambi Ziyambi reportedly said this while responding to questions in Parliament by opposition legislator James Sithole who wanted to know what plans government was implementing to allow diaspora citizens to vote. In response to Honourable Sithole’s question, Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi should simply have explained that we need to amend the constitution and the electoral act in order to enable the diaspora Zimbabweans to vote. He should have given an update on the research he said should have been carried in 2019.
Zimbabwe has facilitated diaspora voting by Mozambique citizens who are based in Zimbabwe, so Ziyambi Ziyambi must know that it is possible for citizens of any country to vote outside the country. Many SADC countries including Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa allow their citizens in the diaspora to vote. Zimbabwe should not been an exception.
Temba Mliswa has of late been saying that President Mnangagwa is a good leader who is being let down by his cabinet. It is Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi who promised a study on diaspora voting patterns as far back as 2019, so his statement proves beyond reasonable double that he is incompetent. If the President was at all sincere about the Diaspora vote when he addressed Zimbabweans in 2018, and has heard of Ziyambi Ziyambi’s plans of 2019, he should have long fired him for incompetence.
Reports indicate that President Mnangagwa is merely posturing when he addresses audience outside Zimbabwe. President Mnangagwa is reported to have thrown the Speaker of Parliament under the bus during a recent Politburo meeting when he said “we are a party united by our shared ideology and common values. All of us are subject to the collective wisdom of the party. The correct party line must be adhered to once a collective decision has been made. Personal views and opinions must never be smuggled to assume the status of being a party policy. Does this mean that he alone has the freedom to talk about the diaspora vote when he addresses gatherings, as he did when he addressed Zimbabweans in New York in 2018?
Zanu PF is said to be afraid of the diaspora vote because it is said the party thinks that the diaspora population is mostly opposition supporters. But what is wrong with a certain party enjoying majority support in some locations? Why has Zanu PF not barred elections in the urban areas where the electorate votes for Zanu PF. Why have opposition parties not said we should not have elections in rural areas because Zanu PF has more support in the rural areas? Besides, Zanu PF also has supporters and in some cases structures in the Diaspora.
Zanu PF has given the sanctions excuse for refusing the diaspora vote. Sanctions have been applied on some individuals in Zimbabwe. I understand that less than 100 people are on the sanctions list. Zanu PF wants to make the world believe that they will not be able to campaign in the diaspora if the diaspora vote has to be granted, but with only less than 100 of its officials on the sanctions list, and with structures in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom, it has a lot of human resource to deploy for its campaign in the diaspora. Secondly, the Zimbabweans in the diaspora are not the ones who have applied sanctions on Zimbabwe. They are, instead, contributing to the economy of Zimbabwe through the investments and remitences they make. The Minister of Finance and many other government officials have acknowledged the contribution to the economy by the Zimbabweans in the diaspora. The diaspora elections are meant for Zimbabwean citizens living abroad, not the British or the Americans, so the excuse for sanctions for not implementing the diaspora vote is out of place. If Zanu PF was really serious about linking sanctions to the diaspora vote, they would bar only the Zimbabweans living in countries which have applied sanctions on Zimbabwe not to vote.
The United Nations, the African Union and SADC must take note of the shenanigans by Zanu PF around the diaspora vote issue. They must persuade Zimbabwe not to sanction its citizens by denying them the diaspora vote.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora must also fight for their right to vote. A few have made efforts, but they should mobilise each other and speak with one voice. The fight for a diaspora vote has to be sustained.
Finally, President Mnangagwa must realise that he is ruining his reputation and that of his party by not stamping his authority. Zimbabweans and the world are now seeing him as a hypocrite who preaches the diaspora vote to the world, but says something different in closed doors in Zanu PF politibro meetings.Post published in: Featured