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Chamisa urges Zimbabwe lawmakers to press for diaspora vote, auditing of voters’ roll

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VOA


Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa says parliamentarians should today canvas for the right to vote and diaspora vote and auditing of the voters’ roll as lawmakers debate the Electoral Amendment Bill.

In a series of tweets, Chamisa said, “Today, Parliament considers the Electoral reforms and amendments bill. May Zimbabwe never miss this special moment and opportunity to deal with all the challenges that undermine the credibility and legitimacy of our elections. As MPs are girding their loins to debate this bill, it’s important to consider the right to vote especially the diaspora vote, access to and audit the voters’ roll which must be verified, approved and signed of by all contesting parties and candidates before the election.”

Chamisa suggested that the lawmakers should discuss modalities of the timely announcement of election results, security of the vote and voter and the blocking of chiefs and other traditional leaders force-marching people to the polling stations.

He also said food handouts should not be used to campaign for votes in all elections.

The opposition has over the years demanded the government to implement electoral reforms designed to ensure that Zimbabwe conducts a free, fair and credible elections.

Responding to Chamisa’s tweets, Unathi Kalanga Ndebele dismissed the CCC leader’s demands for widespread electoral reforms.

He said, “Diaspora vote? Is that provided for in the Constitution? Why would it suddenly pop up in the Electoral Act when it is not provided for in the Constitution? Don’t get me wrong: it is the right thing. But am just not sure if this is the level at which it is being addressed. Every act of Parliament must be in sync with the constitution, and if not in the constitution, that act will be deemed unconstitutional. There are ideals and there are practical issues.”

But a person identified as Webster also said, “Every Zimbabwean has a right to vote wherever they are as long logistics are provided, so diaspora vote does not need to be in the constitution.”

In his response, Chief Michael noted that “the main reason why there is no diaspora vote is because voting in Zim is based on wards and constituencies, and we don’t have these for the diaspora. Therefore, the Electoral must cater for such that is why it needs to be discussed here.”

Zanu PF has already dismissed an untenable suggestions that Zimbabwe should conduct a diaspora vote due to logistical challenges.

The Standard newspaper recently quoted CCC as saying the Electoral Amendment Bill should include improving the design of ballot papers and ensuring that transfer of power and declaration of presidential results is done in a smooth manner.

The Electoral Amendment Bill seeks the disqualification of convicted person from contesting in elections and the scrapping of the drivers licence as proof of identity for voting purposes.