BY SHARON BUWERIMWE
CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) have decried the discrimination of diasporans who will not vote in the 2023 general elections because the country has not reformed its electoral laws.
There have been loud calls from different sections of society demanding amendments to the country’s Electoral Act to allow for the diaspora vote in next year’s general elections.
In its first electoral reform series titled Diaspora Vote in Zimbabwe: Feasibility versus Desirability, civic society group Tutuma Zimbabwe said people in the diaspora will not vote next year, because Zimbabwe has failed to effect constitutional and Electoral Act amendments.
“One way of granting Zimbabweans residing outside the country the right to vote is to amend the Constitution of Zimbabwe and ensure that there is an express provision to this effect. After this amendment, subsequent amendments to the Electoral Act have to be made, which will clearly lay down the procedures on how citizens residing outside the country will be registered and how they will vote on the polling day,” the Tutuma Zimbabwe study said.
“This includes putting in place all the logistical requirements needed to facilitate external voting and external voter registration. Alternatively, the legislature can amend the Electoral Act to allow registration and voting by Zimbabweans residing outside the country. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission can also make additional administrative regulations to this effect.”
Election Resource Centre programmes manager Solomon Bobosibunu told NewsDay that it was too late to call for the diaspora vote before next year’s elections.
“It’s not justifiable, but practically it’s no longer possible. The timeframe left between now up to the time Zimbabwe can promulgate laws that will be used in an election means that we might be behind time. If all the laws are not enacted by January 2023, then ultimately those laws will not see the light of the day.
“There is no longer sufficient time for amendments to the Electoral Act to be done; we lost a lot of time without even taking any action around the Diaspora vote. This should have been started around 2018-2019. Now we are only left with five months before 2023,”Bobosibunu said.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) chairperson Andrew Makoni said: “The diaspora vote is one of the reforms being pushed alongside other reforms. Parliament has until the end of the year 2022 to agree to electoral reforms and pass the necessary law. There is still time for the electoral reforms to be made. However, it will be up to Parliament to consider the diaspora vote or not. As Zesn we have been pushing for a law allowing all citizens to exercise their right to vote despite their location.”
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