MDC-T Pushes For Diaspora Vote

Harare, – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is pushing South African President Jacob Zuma, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator in the Zimbabwe crisis, to allow the Diaspora to vote in the next elections now thought to be held in 2013.\r\n

About three million Zimbabweans are estimated to be in the Diaspora after they fled an economic and political meltdown between 2000 and 2010. Over 250 000 have been given work permits in South Africa this year after the country formally started registering illegal Zimbabweans.

Zanu (PF)’s legal guru, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is thought to be vying to succeed President Robert Mugabe and is reportedly, working behind the scene to maintain his status as the heir apparent has told the state media that his party would not allow the Diaspora to vote.

He said restrictive measures imposed by the European Union (EU) and other Western powers on Mugabe and his inner circle should be unconditionally removed before people in the Diaspora were allowed to vote. Mnangagwa added that due to the targeted sanctions the Zanu (PF) leadership was unable to travel to Europe and the United States to canvas for support from the Diaspora yet Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his leadership could crisis-cross the globe to campaign.

But in a hard-hitting statement to the media on Friday, Prime Tsvangirai’s party charged that all adult Zimbabweans, regardless of their station either at home or in the Diaspora, must be allowed to vote in the next and in any election if democracy has to assume its “generic” meaning.

Tsvangirai said this as Zanu (PF) and MDC negotiators exchanged notes with the SADC facilitation team in Cape Town.

The MDC-T said Zanu (PF) Mnangagwa should know that the issue of restrictive measures and the Diaspora vote were not linked in anyway and therefore could be compared.

“The Inclusive Government was set up to give birth to a completely new society, a society that reflects a radical departure from our dark past. The right to a vote can never be treated as a privilege, and cannot be bargained for,” read part of the MDC-T statement to the media.

“Decades of economic and political chaos drove millions of Zimbabweans off their home base. As if to further punish them the former regime quickly disenfranchised them purely on allegations of supporting the party of the future, the MDC. Now that Zimbabwe is being surveyed by an Inclusive Government, there can never be any justification for official discrimination of citizens in the Diaspora,” said the MDC-T.

“For the record, these Zimbabweans living and working abroad gave the country a lifeline against a debilitating hyper-inflationary period through a steady flow of remittances in cash, food and fuel. They continue to do so today as the country teeters back to its feet. They should never be denied a voice to determine the future of their country.”

“We should end the discrimination and exclusion of such a sizeable and invaluable part of our active population in national affairs. Needless to point out that the liberation struggle was anchored on the need for a one-person, one vote principle. To deny a Zimbabwean such a right would amount to a regrettable betrayal of the ideals of that struggle,” it added.

Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has said that Zimbabweans must only go for elections once a new constitution has been passed in the country. NCA chairperson was speaking to villager in Kanyemba district in their ‘take charge’ campaign that is meant to teach people about constitutional matters.

‘’As the NCA we are telling the politicians of this country that elections should only be conducted after the writing of a new genuine people driven constitution. That new constitution should guarantee a free and fair election,’’ Madhuku said.

NCA spokesperson, Madock Chivasa said people should “after the draft is out it is everyone’s duty as a Zimbabwean to scrutinise the contents of the draft and if your views are not captured surely you should all vote NO.’’