Electoral Amendment Bill takes away Diaspora voting rights

As a ZANU PF functionary Tobaiwa Mudede cannot be trusted to manage the registration of voters

By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
31 July 2014

The Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe has said the Electoral Amendment Bill, which sailed through the ZANU PF dominated Parliament without adjustments, is ‘patently unconstitutional’ and President Mugabe should not sign it into law.

The bill, which seeks to amend the discredited Electoral Act, is awaiting Mugabe’s signature after Parliament handed it to him last Friday for his assent. But the rights group said the bill contains ‘clauses that render it unconstitutional and unable to positively influence a change in the architecture of electoral management.’

In a statement the coalition said the bill does not grant the right to vote to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, prisoners and those who may be in hospital at the time of the polls. The group said this was in violation of section 67 of the Constitution which protects the right of adult citizens to vote in all elections.

The statement said the bill maintains the prohibitive sections of the Electoral Act, particularly with regards the management of the voters’ role and voter education.

The rights group said while the Constitution gives the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission the responsibility to manage the registration of voters, the bill grants the same powers to the Registrar of General Voters, who falls under Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede’s office. Mudede is known to be a ZANU PF functionary.

Activists also listed a number of other unconstitutional provisions in the bill.

The Chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, Ngqabutho Mabhena, said it was both ‘unfortunate’ and ‘unfair’ for the government to expect people in the Diaspora to contribute towards the rebuilding of the economy while at the same time denying them the right to vote.

Mabhena said: ‘Almost all of us in the Diaspora have been investing in Zimbabwe and we have been supporting our families and all that has contributed to the growth to the economy. So we should have a say on how politicians run that economy.’ He said his organisation will be seeking legal advice on the new bill.

Mabhena said they will also be taking advantage of Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi’s presence in South Africa, to raise their concerns about the Diaspora vote and dual citizenship.

Mohadi is due to meet his South African counterpart Malusi Gigaba on Thursday evening, over the issue of Zimbabweans who have been living there on special permits since 2009. As the permits are expiring in December Gigaba is expected to announce whether they will be renewed.

Mabhena said on Wednesday Mohadi consulted Zimbabweans living in South Africa on their grievances and needs, ahead of his meeting with Gigaba. He said they told Mohadi, who is in the company of officials from the registrar general’s office, that they want to remain in South Africa and to be issued with new permits to replace those that have since expired.

According to Mabhena the ZANU PF minister will be briefing Zimbabweans on Friday about his meeting with Gigaba and it is then that they will raise the issue of Diaspora votes.



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