Diaspora vote lost in ‘horse trading’ deal with ZANU PF
By Alex Bell
The right of Zimbabwe’s scattered Diaspora to vote in the coming elections has not been secured in the Electoral Bill, as part of what SW Radio Africa has been told is a ‘horse trading’ deal with ZANU PF.
The Bill is in the process of being passed without the critical amendments needed to allow the Diaspora to vote, despite pledges from the MDC-T to fight on behalf of the Diaspora.
SW Radio Africa has since been told that there are no plans for this fight, because an agreement by the leaders in the unity government has already been reached to prevent Zimbabweans abroad from voting.
A source said on Friday that this agreement means the details of the Bill were already decided before it was introduced to Parliament, as part of a deal to implement the terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). This agreement, signed in late 2008, formed the basis of the unity government, which has been stalled for nearly four years.
The full implementation of the GPA is a key step towards fresh elections in Zimbabwe, but ZANU PF has been resisting the key reforms that it agreed to when it signed the GPA. SW Radio Africa’s source said that some key amendments to the Electoral Bill had to be left out, in order to force ZANU PF into agreeing on this outstanding GPA issue.
It has been a controversial week for Zimbabwe’s parliament, after the Human Rights Commission Bill was passed on Tuesday night with an agreement that no human rights abuses before February 2009 will be investigated. This amnesty means that the perpetrators of the Gukurahundi genocide, the 2008 election violence, and numerous other incidents will get off scot-free.
This Bill, like the Electoral Bill, was an outstanding issue in the GPA and was already negotiated and pre-decided before being put before Parliament.
But MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa on Friday that there is no reason to panic, because the new constitution will require these critical laws to be amended anyway. He admitted that the MDC-T allowed the Bills to go through Parliament, because they are banking on the amendments that he said will be made when the new constitution is in place.
“We are very confident. We finished the final stages of the new constitution today (Friday) so the Bills will have to be revised to be in line with this constitution. This provides for voting rights for all Zimbabwean citizens and this will be a key amendment. So people shouldn’t worry,” Mwonzora said.
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