The Herald (Harare)

10 November 2012

Zimbabwe: 'Tsvangirai's Diaspora Campaign Futile'

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai's intended whirlwind tour of Western capitals to woo Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to come and vote in next year's harmonised elections has been described as an exercise in futility as most of the people are not eligible to vote.

The electoral law states that people who have been out of Zimbabwe for over 12 months lose the right to vote.

They could, however, re-register as voters at the eleventh hour.

Parties in the inclusive Government have also unanimously agreed that postal votes will not be acceptable during the harmonised elections next year.

Only people serving in Zimbabwe's diplomatic missions and security forces on United Nations peace-keeping duties can use postal votes. However, Zanu-PF deputy secretary for legal affairs Cde Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said Mr Tsvangirai was wasting his time and money on such a campaign.

"The exercise is futile because those people are not going to vote. We are on sanctions and that is the reason why we argued that those people in the Diaspora will not be allowed to vote.

"Our visit to Western countries is subject to granting of special visas so that Zanu-PF officials can meet the people there. This is not an ideal arrangement for a party to go and access voters and the population living in those countries.

"We should have a situation of 100 percent freedom of movement like we enjoy here in Zimbabwe talking to our people."

Cde Chinamasa said the illegal sanctions stopped Zanu-PF from engaging in similar activities.

"He is just going there to spend some time in those countries since he is already abroad because those people will not vote," he said.

The Registrar General's Office and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have announced that they would soon remove the names of dead people from the voters' role.

The programme would also target Zimbabweans who have been out of the country in the past 12 months.

Mr Tsvangirai announced on Thursday that he would address rallies to canvass support in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Botswana, the United States and Britain, among other countries.

MDC-T organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa said Mr Tsvangirai was also expected to update Zimbabweans in the Diaspora on the current political situation in the country, the constitution-making process, the Diaspora vote and the need for Diasporans to help in rebuilding Zimbabwe. Mr Tsvangirai, who has been "honeymooning" in Britain, started his rallies in Johannesburg today.

MDC-T secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti, national chairperson Mr Lovemore Moyo, women assembly secretary-general Ms Sibusisiwe Bhuda-Masara, youth deputy chairperson Mr Costa Machingauta and Mr Chamisa would be part of the delegation during the Diaspora campaign rallies. Minister Chinamasa has had challenges in travelling to Brussels (Belgium) for the re-engagement talks.

He was once detained at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany with port authorities questioning the authenticity of his visa issued by the EU embassy in Harare.

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