The United Kingdom Parliament has nudged the Zimbabwean government to make sure all eligible citizens including those based in the diaspora are able to vote in elections.
This comes on the backdrop of petitions filed by Zimbabweans based in the diaspora and non-governmental organisations who have been requesting to vote in the country’s elections from wherever they are based.
The Zimbabwean government, however, said those in the diaspora can only vote in their respective constituencies within the country, which means they have to come home.’
This denial of the right to vote has seen Zimbabweans living abroad including former Ntabazinduna Chief, Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, filing petitions and expressing intentions to engage several governments, the 54 African parliaments, regional and international blocs to advocate for a diaspora vote.
The issue of the diaspora vote was discussed in the UK parliament, where a current member of the House of Lords, the Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE, Ruth Margot Aline Lister, asked what steps Britain was taking in response to the petition highlighting the issue.
“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking, if any, in response to the petition highlighting the disenfranchisement of around five million Zimbabweans in the diaspora, which was presented at 10 Downing Street by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation on 2 December 2021.” she said.
This question for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UIN HL5134, was tabled on January 5, 2022.
In response on January 13, 2022, the Right Hon. The Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith, said the Zimbabwean government had a responsibility to make sure all its citizens were able to vote.
“We are aware of the petition submitted by the groups MyRight2Vote, Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation, and Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe,” he said.
“The onus is on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that all citizens have the ability to vote in line with the constitution, Section 67 of which states that, ‘Every Zimbabwean citizen above 18 years has the right to vote secretly in elections.’”
Lord Goldsmith added: “However, the UK continues to urge the Zimbabwean Government to fulfill their own constitution and their commitments to reform electoral laws.”