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Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum Calls on South Africa to Push Absentee Ballots

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Though the 2008 Global Political Agreement calls for the enfranchisement of Zimbabweans abroad, this reform does not seem likely to be reflected in the new constitution to be drafted and voted on by early 2011

The Global Zimbabwe Forum will ask South African working under the direction of President Jacob Zuma to help extend voting rights to Zimbabweans in the so-called diaspora so they can take part in the forthcoming referendum on the constitution and general elections to follow.

Luke Zunga, chairman of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Chamber, part of the Global Zimbabwe Forum, said voting centers must be established outside the country so Zimbabweans living abroad can cast ballots based on their home constituencies.

The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum is also calling on the government to ensure that all exiled Zimbabweans are able to vote in the constitutional referendum and new elections, saying that denying a significant number of people in the diaspora a vote would render any electoral result questionable.

Presently Zimbabweans in the diaspora must return to the country, to their home constituency. and vote within that constituency at one allocated polling station.

Under current law, only citizens abroad on official business are allowed to cast absentee ballots.

Zunga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that the 2008 Global Political Agreement calls for the enfranchisement of Zimbabweans abroad - but added that this reform does not seem likely to be reflected in the new constitution to be drafted and voted on by early 2011.

Zimbabwe's unity government has yet to fund or or implement a plan for diaspora voting, which the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe opposes.

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