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Fresh push for diaspora vote

by Staff reporter
10 Jul 2020 at 07:02hrs | Views
INDEPENDENT electoral watchdog, the Electoral Resource Centre (ERC) has challenged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to use the postal voting system it administers to allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to cast their votes in general elections.

In May 2018, the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), in a matter between one Shumba and others versus Justice and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, ruled that Zimbabweans outside the country did not satisfy requirements to be eligible to participate in the 2018 harmonised elections.

But the ERC said this ruling violated a 2013 decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and would affect the 2023 elections.

The electoral watchdog said the ConCourt ruling violated the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution by outrightly limiting people's political rights.

It said Zec already administered postal voting to persons eligible to apply for postal vote and must also consider those registered voters who are out of the country legally.

"Zec, when administering postal voting to those outside Zimbabwe, could extend the right to Zimbabweans already appearing on a voters' roll in a constituency which fall within the ambit of s33(c)," ERC said in statement released on Wednesday.

According to the guidelines that will be at play in 2023, ERC stated that a registered voter who left the country earlier than the 2018 elections would qualify to vote in 2023 elections through pre-existing registration, but those who left 12 months after voting in 2018 would not be allowed to vote in 2023.

"For one to lose their status as a registered voter, one must be disqualified as a registered voter or must be continuously absent from his/her constituency for a period of over 12 months, subject to exemptions identified earlier section 33(2), namely temporarily outside Zimbabwe for employment, national duty or education," ERC said.

"In 2023, registered voters who subsequently left Zimbabwe earlier the 2018 election will qualify through their pre-existing registration to vote. Citizens who can justify their absence from Zimbabwe in accordance with the Electoral Act will not be disqualified and removed from the voters' roll."

Guidelines for eligibility to vote in 2023 include that the voter must be a registered voter, a potential registrant must be 18, a Zimbabwean citizen and must provide proof of residence.

According to the Electoral Act, it does not allow for a diaspora vote for those who live abroad, instead, requires citizens who wish to vote to return to Zimbabwe to register and vote.

ERC further said the right to participate in elections was taken away by the Constitution, which prescribes residency requirements to ensure voters are registered on the most appropriate roll.

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Source - newsday