Dear President Mnangagwa,

MEMBERS of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative read with interest your message to Russian President Vladimir Putin formally congratulating him on his re-election following the holding of polls from March 15 to 17, in Russia. The congratulatory message was expected given the growing friendship between the two administrations.

The Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative closely followed the Russian elections, monitoring how the Russian government handled diaspora voting in that election. We are impressed to know that an unprecedented number of Russians living in the diaspora participated in the plebiscite, something that we had also hoped would happen in the Zimbabwean 2023 elections following your 2018 promise. Despite the promise, your administration does not seem to have treated the diaspora vote with the urgency that it deserves. We hope you will use your last term of office to fulfil your 2018 promise and leave a lasting legacy as the President who brought the diaspora vote to Zimbabwe, which your predecessor, the late former President Robert Mugabe failed to do in 37 years.

Diaspora vote is becoming the norm for all progressive countries. All of Zimbabwe’s neighbours, except for Zambia which is at advanced stages of implementing the diaspora vote, already allow their citizens living abroad their democratic right to vote in elections in their countries. These neighbours are Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

Democratic Republic of Congo citizens living abroad voted in their country’s elections in 2023, while 42% of Senegalese citizens based in the diaspora were able to vote in the 2024 Senegalese elections as more African countries adopt the diaspora vote.

We hope that government of Zimbabwe will draw lessons from what is happening elsewhere in the Southern African Development Community region, in Africa and internationally regarding diaspora voting. We are of the view that any electoral reforms to be implemented in Zimbabwe should include diaspora voting. The Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative is ready to make input into electoral reforms that should lead to diaspora voting. - Rosewiter Mangiroza Chairperson Zimbabwe Diaspora Vote Initiative 

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