Politics

Zimbabweans protest at UN headquarters over diaspora vote

SOME Zimbabweans in the United States are staging a protest this Saturday outside the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York over Government’s failure to allow disapora vote.

Dan Moyo, who stays in Virginia, USA, says President Mnangagwa himself on a previous visit to New York for the UN General Assembly met with Zimbabweans there and assured them of diaspora vote in the 2023 elections.

The President is not visiting New York and will attend this year’s UN General Assembly virtually.

However, Moyo told VOA Studio 7 that Zimbabweans will gather in their thousands to demand participation in the 2023 national elections.

Zanu PF acting political commissar, Patrick Chinamasa, previously said Zimbabwe won’t set up election centers abroad unless the Parliament makes the necessary constitutional amendments and targeted sanctions imposed on some top Zanu PF officials are removed.

But the main opposition MDC Alliance lacks the Parliamentary majority to effect any change of law and has to bank on Zanu-PF benevolence.

Chinamasa said Zimbabweans living in the diaspora are free to go home and register to vote and then go back to vote at their own expense.

“If you want a diaspora vote, first level the playing field by removing sanctions, so that Zanu PF can go there and campaign freely without being vetted against sanctions. We will not allow those in the diaspora the right to vote because we are under sanctions in those countries.

“I cannot go to campaign in the United Kingdom because of sanctions as we all know and as long as that situation persists, we will say no vote to people in the diaspora because we will be allowing only those who have been asking for sanctions to have access to that electorate.

“That of course is not acceptable, and we will not allow it. Sanctions must fall and then we will start talking about diaspora vote.”

Chinamasa also noted that there was no constitutional provision or legislation supporting the setting up of voting centers outside Zimbabwe or permitting postal votes of citizens living in other nations.

Zimbabwean elections are ward-based.

However, Dan Moyo says diasporans contribute to the economy and must have a say in choosing the country’s Government.

“It’s disheartening to hear Chinamasa saying this. Many Zimbabweans living in the diaspora are supporting the country’s economy,” he said.

“In 2020 alone, the country recorded over a billion dollars in diaspora remittances, which is a third of Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product.

“We have discussed this issue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and he agreed that Zimbabweans living in the diaspora should be accorded an opportunity to vote back home.

“We don’t know why Chinamasa is saying all this now. We hope that people will remember these empty promises when the country holds elections in 2023.” □

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