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Zimbabweans Living Outside Their Country Seek to Cast Vote


FILE - Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson, Rita Makarau says, July 12, 2017, the country’s parliament must change laws otherwise her organization cannot allow citizens in the diaspora to vote next year.

Some Zimbabweans living outside their country have taken the government to court, seeking the diaspora's right to take part in planned elections.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba has said the matter will be heard by a "full bench" at a date to be determined.

Ahead of a Thursday hearing at the Constitutional Court, visiting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, told Zimbabweans in neighboring Mozambique to come home and register to vote in elections which he said will be held in the next five months.

But the exiled Zimbabweans want to be able to vote from where they are. One of them is United Kingdom-based Ruvimbo Chigwedere, who is bitter that Mnangagwa’s government says it has no money to help Zimbabweans vote.

“We saw it coming. It will take long time anyway. It is not about money, it is about [Mnangagwa government] policies: we are enemies of the state and that will take time to change. We are counted when it benefits [them]. But when it comes to the proper benefit for us we don’t really matter,” said Chigwe,dere

Zimbabweans living abroad sent home about $750 million last year, according to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe estimates.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights filed the petition to allow the diaspora to vote. Diplomats are the only Zimbabweans outside the country who can currently cast ballots. As many as three million people are left unable to vote.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Acting Chairperson Emmanuel Magade says his organization is not to blame for that.

“Our position as ZEC is that we would want every eligible Zimbabwean to vote, but everything has to be done in accordance with the law," he said. "As of now, people in the diaspora are ineligible to vote. It’s incumbent upon the parliamentary parties to change the law. We are in servitude of the law. We will follow the law dutifully and faithfully.”

It remains to be seen whether parliament or the Constitutional Court will change the law in time for the next elections.

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