By Pretty Chavango
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has reiterated that Zimbabweans in the diaspora are not eligible to vote as everything has to be done in accordance to the law and their inclusion largely depends on Parliamentary parties to change the law.
Addressing journalists at a press conference yesterday, Acting ZEC chairperson Emmanuel Magade said the question of the diaspora vote could not be addressed by them.
“Our position as ZEC is that we would want every legible Zimbabwean to vote, but everything has to be done in accordance to the law, as of now people in the diaspora are ineligible to vote. Its incumbent or it behoves upon the Parliamentary parties; MDC, MDC-T and ZANU PF to change the law.
“We have been on record to saying that we are in servitude of the law, we are servants of the law, we will follow the law dutifully and faithfully,” said Commissioner Magade.
Honourable Member of Parliament for Harare West Advocate Jessie Majome, however, rubbished claims that people in the diaspora were ineligible to vote by law.
“This is a blue lie!, Our Constitution, the supreme law guarantees universal adult franchise of Zimbabweans wherever they are. Even Electoral Act doesn’t bar it.
“The cost of an un-free and unfair election is astronomically higher than the nominal budget of the election. Diaspora voting will unlock diaspora remittances- Nigeria so doubled its own from $10 billion to $20 billion per annum,” added Majome.
Section 23 (3) of the Electoral Act ( Part V on residence qualifications of voters and registration) states that ; A voter who is registered on the voters roll for a constituency, other than a voter who has been registered in that constituency in terms of the proviso to subsection (1), shall not be entitled to have his or her name retained on such roll if, for a continuous period of twelve months, he or she has ceased to reside in that constituency.
Section 71 of the same Act limits the right to postal voting only to people sent outside the country on Government business and their spouses.
ZEC’s denial of the diaspora vote is buttressed by the constitutional court which continues to throw out any applications by Zimbabweans living outside the currently to cast their votes on the basis that the law does not provide for voting in foreign jurisdictions.
Honourable Majome is however of the opinion that citizens can vote from the diaspora if ZEC would make the necessary arrangements as Zimbabwe would not be inventing diaspora voting which is done all over the world by many countries.
Barring of the diaspora vote has made the electoral body unpopular as many feel it is done in the assumption that diasporians will vote for the opposition