Zimbabwe: Constitutional Court Reserves Judgment On Diaspora Vote Challenge

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THE Constitutional Court Wednesday reserved judgment in a case in which three Zimbabweans are challenging provisions of the electoral court which prevent Diapsorans from voting in their countries of residency.

The case was heard by the full bench of the Constitutional Court with the applications represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

Applicants are arguing that residency requirements imposed by the Electoral Act contravene the Constitution which provided for political rights allowing every Zimbabwe citizen to participate in political processes, wherever they were.

Advocate Thabani Mpofu said he was hopeful that judgment would be delivered soon.

"We have argued the diaspora matter and the point that we have taken is that the Electoral Act is unconstitutional to an extent that it disenfranchises the diaspora vote," he said.

"So, the court has listened to the argument on the matter and wishes to consider the issues and we hope that judgment will be rendered sooner rather than later."

Zimbabwe is due to hold fresh general elections between July and August this year.

Electoral commission officials have ruled out diaspora voting and said non-resident citizens keen to vote would have to travel home, first to register and then return to cast their ballots.

The opposition has long pressed for the millions of Zimbabweans based abroad to be allowed to vote from wherever they live but there hasn't been much enthusiasm for the idea from the ruling Zanu PF party.

However, president Emmerson Mnangagwa recently indicated in an interview with the Economist that a Diaspora vote might be possible in the future.

"There is no law which forbids them (Diasporans) to vote. We can allow them to come," the Zanu PF leader is quoted as saying, and even suggests the exiles may be able to register online in future elections.

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