Zanu PF acting political commissar, Patrick Chinamasa, says Zimbabwe won’t set up election centers outside Zimbabwe during national polls unless the nation makes the necessary constitutional amendments and targeted sanctions imposed on some top Zanu PF officials are removed.
Speaking at a press conference monitored on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and 263Chat, 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.
But irate Zimbabweans living in the diaspora say Chinamasa’s remarks are retrogressive as all citizens have a right to vote as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
Responding to a journalist’s question on the diaspora vote, Chinamasa said, “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.”
He 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.
Zimbabweans living in the diaspora criticized Chinamasa to making these remarks, noting that they have a right to vote as stipulated under Section 67 of the Zimbabwe Constitution.
Siphiwe Mafu Sithole, who lives in Ireland, said, “This is sad news. Why can Chinamasa say such a thing? He thinks that we are fools. Who in his or her right mind can pay an air ticket and fly to Zimbabwe to register to vote. Borders are closed and it’s not easy for us to go to Zimbabwe.
“It’s not practical for us to go home to vote. We cannot even go home to lay to rest our departed parents. We can do that online.
“We are known citizens. They have our identify documents in their government registers. If they don’t want us to vote, they should say so instead of playing around with our minds.”
Another Zimbabwean, Dan Moyo, who lives in USA, said, “It’s disheartening to hear Chinamasa saying this. Many Zimbabweans living in the diaspora are supporting the country’s economy. 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.”
But Zanu PF activist, Elifasi Mashava, said, “Chinamasa got it right. The issue of sanctions has to addressed because it will be difficult for government or Zanu PF officials to take part in the elections in nations that imposed targeted sanctions on some Zimbabweans. As a result, the issue of sanctions needs to be sorted out before we talk about the diaspora vote.”
Millions of Zimbabweans are living outside the country as political and economic refugees. Some of them have become citizens of other nations.