A petition has been making the rounds on social media with regards to ensuring that the Zimbabwe diaspora community is able to exercise their right to vote in the next harmonized election. This right to vote for any party of choice is enshrined in the supreme law of the land precisely section 67(3). “All Zimbabweans who were born in Zimbabwe have the right to vote in the elections in Zimbabwe.” The diaspora vote has been a bone of contention for so long and NERA insists in its petition that there is a need for organisations to assist in the facilitation of the diaspora vote.
NERA believes it is within the administrative mandate of ZEC to put in place administrative and other mechanisms to ensure that every Zimbabwean of age exercises this constitutional right regardless of geographical location. However, ZEC has conceded to being financially bedridden and hence being unable to shoulder the expectation of the costs that shall come with facilitating the diaspora. Some speculation making the rounds is that despite the Government having a burgeoning hole in its pocket there is indeed an unwillingness to foster electoral reforms by the ZEC due to its supposed ‘party allegiance’.
As a direct result of a collapsing economy and dwindling political situation in Zimbabwe, over the years over two million nationals have made exodus seeking greener pastures in the diaspora. It is sacrifice many made to feed their families and did not mind being second class citizens in other countries. In fact, many Zimbabweans living in the diaspora have expressed the wish to want to come back home as life is not easy on foreign soil but are afraid to come back to a place that has literally nothing to offer them and their families. Zimbabweans are living in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia Malawi, Kenya and Europe.
The petition seeks to ensure that the Diaspora community is able to vote through the facilitation of the process in neutral voting polling locations in the Diaspora, facilitation of transportation for the diaspora to come home to register to vote and to vote on election day and NERA insists that it is in the process of setting up ways to facilitate voter education in the Diaspora and would appreciate assistance in that endeavour.
One important proposal by NERA is to proffer safeguards that will ensure the authenticity of the diaspora vote. This will have a bearing on making sure that there is no room for the diaspora vote to be manipulated and rigged by the ruling party. This is in a bid to ensure that the ruling party does not betray the wishes of Zimbabweans and prolong the suffering of masses. Thus, these safeguards include
Elections being held in a neutral location that do not include embassies because they are apparently the payroll of the ruling party, publicizing of the voters roll in good time to ensure verification of all registered voters, engaging neutral and independent observers and monitors at every polling station and these will ensure the safety of all ballots from the polling station in diaspora, independent biometric technical support should be used to check the authenticity of the BVR system, identification of specific polling stations by stakeholders to ensure that locations meet the minimum standards and specifications to allow for free and fair elections, neutral security personnel must be used at every polling station, independent and accredited personal should vote count and certify votes, sufficient time should availed for adequate voter education and registration programs to be undertaken, the number of extra ballot papers must be verified before voting begins, voter assistance must be declared by voters at the point of registration and all diasporas wishing to vote must be told the necessary documentation necessary to authenticate the citizenship.
Some of the sentiments of Zimbabweans living in the diaspora include
“It is my democratic right to choose the leader I want and my duty as a citizen to participate in elections.” Another said “I believe all Zimbabweans have equal voting rights irrespective of where they are in the world. The whole electoral process should be impartial, transparent, free and fair. A big NO to vote rigging.”