Diaspora calls for voting rights as precondition for EU re-engagement

EU parliament is being asked to set conditions for re-engagement with Zimbabwe

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
3 June 2014

Members of Zimbabwe’s Diaspora have called for the restoration of their voting rights to be a pre-condition for any more re-engagement between the European Union (EU) and ZANU PF.

The re-engagement process has been gaining momentum recently, and last week, the EU indicated that over $300 million would be available for ZANU PF, as soon as the remaining targeted restrictions against Robert Mugabe and his wife are removed.

This is despite a lack of real change on the ground in Zimbabwe, including an absence of any reforms previously stipulated by the EU as the benchmark for normalising its relations with Zimbabwe. Such reforms included the holding of a democratic, free and fair election.

Last year the EU fell short of endorsing Zimbabwe’s July polls because of the widespread condemnation of the vote as a ‘rigged’ process. Among the many issues that has seen the poll being disputed, was the exclusion of votes from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.

People around the world are now being urged to join a social media campaign that urges the EU to reconsider its re-engagement efforts, using the absence of a Diaspora vote as a rallying cry. The campaign, launched this week through a video message by former diplomat Clifford Mashiri, urges the restoration of a Diaspora vote before re-engagement goes any further.

In a video message to launch the #RestoreZimDiasporaVote campaign, Mashiri said the Western engagement being witnessed is “deplorable.”

“The EU is doing nothing to persuade the regime in Harare to change its course, to change its disenfranchisement of millions, to comply with democracy. We have seen the regime in Harare reneging on various reforms and getting away with everything that is wrong. And they (the EU) have done nothing. Instead they have chosen a policy of appeasement to help Mugabe remain in power,” Mashiri said.

He explained that the elections last July cannot be recognised as legitimate, because it excluded such a large percentage of Zimbabwean citizens. He said the subsequent efforts by the EU to normalise its relationship with ZANU PF was very worrying.

“We are worried that the regime is being treated with kid gloves. They (the EU) are no longer keen to see democracy thriving. They are not worried about the economic implosion that is threatening and the 90% unemployment in the country,” Mashiri said.

He urged people around the world to take to Twitter to tweet and retweet the #RestoreZimDiasporaVote, as a form of public pressure on the EU.

“We call on all people to condemn what is happening in Zimbabwe, particularly the disenfranchisement of millions abroad. We call on the whole world to join our campaign. We want to get that vote before the EU can advance its promised aid to the ZANU PF regime. It should be a condition for the extension of that funding, if it is to be credible,” Mashiri said.

To contact this reporter email [email protected] or follow on Twitter

2 Responsesto “Diaspora calls for voting rights as precondition for EU re-engagement”

  1. wilbert says:

    Mugabe has not carried out any of the political reforms to ensure free and fair elections nor has he implemented the economic reforms to ensure the money is not wasted as has happened in the past! The EU is not being honest here!

  2. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    Alex Bell

    Can you telly your readership, the composition of the Zimbabwe’s diaspora who are calling for the restoration of their voting rights. My understand of the term ‘restoration of their voting rights’ implies they had such rights to cast their vote while living abroad which has been taken away by ZANU PF. If my understanding is correct, that is highly misleading as Zimbabwe has never allowed its nationals who have opted to live abroad for obvious reasons.

    Any genuine Zimbabwean who wants to cast his/her vote has never been denied to do so within the confines of the country. What the country can not do is to send ballot boxes abroad to enable its nationals to cast their vote during an election year as this costs money which the so-called diasporas do not provide as they do not pay their taxes to the Zimbabwean government. They pay taxes to their host governments and can not cry foul over voting rights they never exercised in the past. As usual, your articles are always misleading and as such can not be relied upon.

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