As the August House debated the Electoral Amendment Bill, Harare North MP Allan Markham raised the issue of the diaspora vote.
Markham stated that there is no reason for diasporans to be denied the right to vote, noting that most SADC countries allow their citizens based abroad to cast their votes.
“The biggest thing that must be covered clearly in this Bill is the issue of our diaspora. Our diaspora is the biggest foreign currency earner in this country. Our human resources that are being exported are the biggest owners of money into the country and they do have the vote,” said the MP.
“I do not care if it is a postal vote, special vote or any other vote; there is no reason why the diaspora cannot vote if they are Zimbabwean citizens. It is in the SADC Protocol. Most SADC countries facilitated it and yet we deny them. Yet our biggest earner of forex is the diaspora.”
Makoni Central MP, David Tekeshe, chimed in on the subject, claiming that Zimbabwe was exporting labour, particularly teachers, who should be permitted to vote.
“Zimbabwe is exporting labour and are you saying when those people want to vote, they should take vacation leave come back home and vote? We have exported 500 teachers. Should they all take vacation leave to come back home and vote?” Tekeshe asked.
“In the past, people used to think that the diaspora vote would go to the Opposition but that is not true. We have seen the likes of Nick Mangwana being offered jobs back home while they are in the UK, in the diaspora; which means there are a lot of people in the diaspora who support the ruling Party.
“We cannot deny people their right to vote because we are afraid they might vote us out. There are others who are in the opposition who are supporting the gold mafias because they are benefiting in your presence and they will vote for you. I think the diaspora vote must be considered.”