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Zimbabwe Constitutional Committee Reaches Out to Diaspora Groups in S. Africa

Zimbabweans in the diaspora, heavily concentrated in South Africa to which some two million nationals have moved for political or economic reasons, want the right to cast absentee ballots in national elections and to hold dual citizenship

Zimbabwe's Select Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Revision has authorized civic groups based outside the country to hold public outreach meetings in their communities and submit findings by October 25.

Select Committee Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora said his committee does not have the resources to do outreach meetings in the diaspora. The committee's three co-chairs met about 30 civic groups in Johannesburg on Friday and briefed participants on the outreach process that has been going on inside the country since June.

The meeting included representatives of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, among others. Sources who attended the meeting said civil society activists listed issues of most concern to members of the diaspora, including dual citizenship and the right to cast absentee ballots in national elections.

The groups asked to be included in future stages of the constitutional revision process.

Select Committee Co-Chairman Mwonzora told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the conference offered expatriates an opportunity to express their views on the new constitution.

Meanwhile, committee officials said meetings canceled in Harare last month due to violence would be rescheduled for the weekend of October 9-10. Reports said representatives of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party opposed rescheduling, while committee members from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change insisted new dates be set. Most reports have blamed ZANU-PF militants for disrupting the meetings.