By Thandiwe Garusa
ZANU PF acting political commissar Patrick Chinamasa has declared the ruling party will not entertain calls for a diaspora vote until sanctions imposed on the country by western powers are removed.
Speaking to journalists at the party’s main headquarters in Harare Thursday, Chinamasa said allowing millions of Zimbabweans living abroad to take part in the country’s polls would be a disadvantage to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s party.
The former finance minister said Zanu PF leaders were under a travel ban to western countries, something that placed them at a disadvantage if political candidates in Zimbabwe were to travel abroad to campaign.
Zimbabweans living abroad are estimated to be over five million.
Most of them are economic refugees in host countries with a few more in self-imposed political exile.
Since the turn of the century, the main opposition MDC has been clamouring for a change of policy so as to allow citizens who have contributed immensely to the country’s economy through remittances also cast their ballots.
There are strong beliefs Zimbabweans living abroad favoured change of government back home and would not hesitate to vote the opposition.
Zanu PF is adamant a diaspora vote under the York of sanctions was not feasible.
Said Chinamasa, “If you want a diaspora vote, first level the playing field by removing sanctions, so that Zanu PF can go there and campaign freely without being vetted against sanctions.
“We will not allow those in the diaspora the right to vote because we are under sanctions in those countries.
“I cannot go to campaign in the United Kingdom because of sanctions as we all know and as long as that situation persists, we will say no vote to people in the diaspora because we will be allowing only those who have been asking for sanctions to have access to that electorate.
“That of course is not acceptable, and we will not allow it. Sanctions must fall and then we will start talking about diaspora vote.”
Citizens living in the diaspora have questioned why they were not being allowed to vote yet Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube made it clear their remittances, standing at US$1 billion for 2020, are the regime’s current backbone.
An economic meltdown whose height was a record-breaking inflation rate in 2008, an increase in incidences of politically motivated violence amongst other reasons resulted in millions fleeing Zimbabwe for better opportunities.