By Wisdom Mumera
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says it has received the go ahead from Chief Justice Luke Malaba to file an application to the Constitutional Court with regards to diasporans right to vote.
It is largely believed that there are about three million Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, mainly in South Africa, United Kingdom and Australia among many others.
These Zimbabweans have been trying to participate in the country’s elections while in the diaspora but the country has been unwilling to grant them the opportunity as most of them are alleged to be opposition supporters.
The Luke Malaba ruling therefore has been viewed as a ray of hope by the diasporan community.
In a statement ZLHR said the case will be heard before a full bench on a date to be advised.
“Chief Justice Luke Malaba grants green light to diasporans to file application on the right to vote, which will be heard by the full bench at a date to be advised,” said the ZLHR statement.
Three Zimbabwean, Gabriel Shumba, Sibonile Mfumisi, both based in South Africa and Darlington Nyambiya, based in Britain, filed the initial application through ZLHR and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC).
The three contested for direct access to the Constitutional Court on 20 October 2017 seeking an order compelling the respondents, who include the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) among other respondents, to facilitate the amendment of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) and put appropriate measures so as to enable Zimbabweans living and working abroad to participate in the country’s electoral processes.
In 2017 the Constitutional Court ruled that the State was not obliged at law to establish polling stations outside the country and all Zimbabweans away from home for personal reasons were free to travel back to cast their ballots.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba stated at that time that the right to vote was not absolute and that limitations to that right were justified.
On Wednesday Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi reiterated the same sentiments during a radio talkshow.
The opposition has been frantically pushing for the diaspora vote since 2000 but to no avail.