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Zimbabweans in Diaspora Won't Vote in 2013 Crucial Elections

Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede says Zimbabwe will not implement a ruling of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACPHR) compelling Harare to allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote.

Speaking at a meeting with civil society organizations organized by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Harare today Mr. Mudede said the ruling of the commission’s ruling is null and void.

Although Zimbabwe is signatory to the African Union Charter, Mr. Mudede said allowing Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote in line with the African Commission's ruling was tantamount to allowing other countries to interfere with Zimbabwe's sovereignty.

Following a case brought up by Zimbabwe Exiles Forum director, Gabriel Shumba, the ACPHR ruled that denying Zimbabweans in the diaspora the chance to participate in electoral processes back home violated their democratic rights.

ZEC commissioner Geoff Feltoe said although the new constitution allows all Zimbabweans who were born in the country to vote, there is need to amend the Electoral Act to be in line with the new constitution.

It is estimated that there are more than four million Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, mostly in South Africa and the United Kindgom.
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Meanwhile, some members of non-governmental organizations that attended the Thursday meeting expressed concern on logistical issues regarding voter education ahead of the national mobile voter registration exercise that is set to begin next week Monday.

Nixon Nyikadzino of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the two voter educators deployed by ZEC in each ward to conduct voter education will not be able to complete their task given the sizes of the wards.

Nyikadzino said some Zimbabweans of foreign origin, commonly referred to as aliens, could be disenfranchised in this year's crucial elections after the registrar general indicated that the processing of their identity documents in line with the new constitution may take up to six months.

The civic society organizations also expressed concern that most first time voters would not be able to inspect the voters roll as the mobile voter registration exercise and the inspection of the voters roll are running concurrently.

ZEC said the registration exercise will run for 30 days starting next Monday. The electoral body is urging all citizens wishing to register as voters during this period to take their passports, metal or plastic identity cards to registration centres.

For further perspective, VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo turned to Reverend Levee Kadenge and Zimbabwe Election Support Network national director Rindai Chipfunde Vava.

Chipfunde Vava said ZEC assured them of a successful voter education and registration drive but organizations remain skeptical.
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