The South African government has indicated that it is willing to make facilities available to ensure Zimbabweans living in that country are able to vote from there in the 2018 general elections, it has been learnt.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) director, Gabriel Shumba said they had engaged authorities in South Africa, through the Diaspora Vote Coalition, who had indicated willingness to assist Zimbabweans to cast their votes from South Africa.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is not enthusiastic about the Diaspora vote, citing financial constraints.
However, Shumba said that arguments being put forward by Zec were unconvincing.
“Arguments advanced so far, to deny us this fundamental right, are unconvincing. The alignment of the electoral laws to the new Constitution can be done in a jiffy. The South African government has indicated in informal discussions that it can make facilities available if approached,” he said.
“Other countries, I am sure, can also do the same if requested. The cost, thereof, can be in part raised by the Diaspora if the political will is present. Safeguards for transparency can be employed in much the same way as they are employed at home.”
Shumba said that denying Zimbabweans living in other countries the right to vote was a violation of their constitutional rights.
“The Diaspora vote, as far as Zimbabwe Exiles Forum is concerned, is a non-negotiable right. The Constitution is unequivocally clear on the rights of all citizens to vote. Readers may also recall that in 2013, in Gabriel Shumba and others versus Zimbabwe, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Banjul granted us provisional measures on the expatriate vote,” he said.
Shumba said due to financial constraints, as well as pressing work commitments, it would be difficult to mobilise Zimbabweans living in South Africa to return home to vote, hence, the need for Zec to facilitate for the Diaspora vote.
“To mobilise Zimbabweans to come and vote is way too expensive both in terms of time and financially. We tried it in 2008 and only got about 100 000 voters, with the rest unable to come to Zimbabwe owing to work commitments or finance limitations,” he said.
“What is needed here is political will. In the Diaspora, we now have the Diaspora Vote Coalition formed on November 12, 2016, which will advocate for the Diaspora vote.” – Newsday