By UK Correspondent
ZIMBABWE has 210 electoral constituencies and none of them is located outside the country’s physical boarders, justice legal and parliamentary affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.
He was responding to questions in Parliament by opposition legislator James Sithole who wanted to know what plans government was implementing to allow diaspora citizens to vote.
The number of Zimbabweans who left the country over the past two decades to escape economic hardships blamed on Zanu PF’s rule is believed to number in the millions; most settling in neighbouring countries while others went overseas.
Fearing the Diasporans’ electoral wrath, Ziyambi’s ruling party has repeatedly ruled out facilitating the migrants participation in elections back home, citing varying reasons including sanctions imposed against the country by the West.
“According to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean electoral system is constituency-based,” the minister explained on Wednesday.
“In terms of Section 160 of the Constitution, there are 210 constituencies and they are all located within the boundaries of the country.
“The Constitution does not mandate the setting up of constituencies outside the borders of Zimbabwe.
“As decided by the courts in the Gabriel Shumba case, the courts recognised that our country does not have foreign constituencies as of now and since the Constitution does not envisage constituencies beyond the borders of Zimbabwe, it follows that no voter’s roll can exist outside the 210 constituencies into which Zimbabwe is divided for voting purposes.”
He added; “There is currently no legislative framework that regulates voting by citizens in the diaspora.
“If a person requires to vote, he has to be registered in a constituency within Zimbabwe whereby the residential requirements is among the voter registration requirements provided for by our electoral law.”
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Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda – a senior member of Zanu PF – was recently called to order by ruling party officials after urging a Constitutional amendment to allow the Diaspora to vote.
Said Zanu PF spokesman Christopher Mutsvangwa; “It’s unbecoming when some of our members express views in Parliament about certain issues. We have a caucus at the party. Why would somebody from the ruling party want to go and express things about the diaspora?”
Meanwhile, Ziyambi also said the residence requirements did not only apply to the Diaspora.
“… it is also important to note that the residence requirement is not a requirement strictly for persons in the diaspora as it also affects those who live in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“For example, a person who no longer lives in the Hatfield Constituency for the relevant period will not be allowed to vote in that constituency’s elections, notwithstanding that they still live in Zimbabwe though living in a different constituency, for example an area in the Harare North Constituency.
“In this regard, the residence requirements are not directed or targeted to exclude the diaspora vote as is the assumption by many.”
The Minister was also asked about the problem of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission continuing “ to move voters from their registered polling station without their consent”.
“The Commission advises that it is not aware of any formal report wherein it has been alleged that it has moved voters from their registered polling stations without their consent,” said Ziyambi.
“… the Commission recommends that where there are known incidents of voters being moved from their polling stations without their consent, a formal report be filed within the voters’ ZEC provincial offices or an appeal of any decision of an alteration made by the Commission or voter registration officer be made to a designated magistrate within the affected voter’s province.”