The diaspora vote — the legal argument

A Zimbabwe Electoral Commissioon (ZEC) official checks names in the voter roll register which critics say has been padded out with babies, the dead and bogus names in the past to help rig elections

The right to vote or participate in an election is a fundamental human right and an inseparable character of civilisation and democracy.

Every citizen is expected to play a role in electing individuals who would conduct the affairs of his/her country at a national level.

The United Nations acknowledges that the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, including the right to vote and to stand for election, is at the heart of democratic governments based on the will of the people.

Whilst in most case  not adhered  to,  Zimbabwe has a sound Constitution and in its preamble it emphasises the need to entrench into democracy, rule of law, good and accountable government.

The Zimbabwe Constitution provides the qualifications of a person who is eligible to vote and in simple terms the requirements are that one has to be above the age of 18 years and is a Zimbabwean citizen.

In recent years and due to poor governance, corruption, human rights abuses and sometime criminality, Zimbabwe has experienced an exodus of its citizens to different countries.

In my book entitled, I Want to Go Home, I highlighted the inseparable love of humankind to remain associated with his or her roots or birth place.

The analogy of this argument in my book is for another day. However, the point here is that although we have Zimbabweans who have settled and invested in other countries, these citizens have remained so glued to the affairs of their home country and continue to immensely contribute to the country as demonstrated by huge remittances and investments and other infrastructural and financial commitments to their home country.

For many years, Zimbabweans in the diaspora have watched helplessly and been  alienated from political processes by being denied the right to vote for candidates of their choice.

The government is denying citizens in the diaspora the enjoyment of the right which is crucial to a meaningful electoral process.

The importance of law and the Constitution of a country lies in its flexibility to adapt to societal dynamics and its nexus to norms of social diversity, complexity and adaptability for an ever changing society.

Zimbabwe’s case is unique and it’s naive that the government continues to alienate citizens by not affording them the legal and fundamental right to exercise their right to vote.

Editor, I write this piece with full consciousness that it has been previously pursued but without success.

But the issue needs to be considered seriously or as a joint initiative or plan of action on human rights and rights for all citizens home and abroad to be able to participate in elections.

It is important for the government to realise that Zimbabweans in the diaspora are as equally Zimbabwean, important  and patriotic as those at home and that voting is a right, not a privilege.

I call upon like  minded Zimbabweans to realise that even the war of liberation’s success was premised upon a combination of various actors, i.e those who were waging war in Zambia, Mozambique etc and the mujibhas, chibwidos, vabereki and sponsors.

This holistic approach and oneness made the war winnable and we all enjoy independence due to collective participation and the same should be reflected by the inclusion of the diaspora vote.

Adv. Prinsloo Kandemiiri CIArb

Spokesperson 

Patriotic Zimbabwe (PZ)