THE Constitutional Court (ConCourt) yesterday effectively barred millions of Zimbabweans based in the diaspora from voting in this year’s polls after it dismissed an application for amendment of provisions of the Electoral Act to allow them to vote from their respective bases.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
In passing judgment, Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza said: “After considering all arguments before the court, it was agreed that it could not succeed. The application is, therefore, dismissed with no order as to costs.”
The appeal had been filed by three Zimbabwean diasporans; Gabriel Shumba and Sibonile Mfumisi (both based in South Africa), and United Kingdom-based Darlington Nyambiya.
Through their lawyer, Thabani Mpofu the trio had urged that section 23(3) of the Electoral Act must be revisited, so as to enable the country’s citizens living abroad to exercise their voting rights.
“There is no need for the Constitution to be amended instead it is the State that must amend its position,” Mpofu said in reference to section 23(3) of the Electoral Act, which prohibits any Zimbabwean citizen, who would have been living outside the country for over 12 months, to participate in the country’s electoral
“If the Constitution allows them (Diasporans) to remain on the voters’ roll, that’s the end of the matter, but currently, they are not allowed to participate in the country’s electoral processes for staying out of the country for over 12 months.”
But State counsel, Vernanda Munyoro argued that only Zimbabweans living outside the country on national duty were eligible to vote, adding that those that left because of socio-economic problems could not be allowed to enjoy the same privillege.
“Our Constitution did not anticipate there would be Diasporans, as is the case today and, therefore, what is contained in the Electoral Act is constitutional,” she said, adding people vote according to their constituencies and those living in the Diaspora would be eligible to cast their votes only if they were registered voters.