Nduduzo Tshuma in Harare
DIASPORANS will only vote in the 2018 national elections if they avail themselves for the Biometric Voter Registration that will come up with the new voters roll and also come back home to cast their ballot, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, said yesterday.
Addressing journalists during a Meet the Zec Chairperson Forum media engagement at the organisation’s offices in Harare, Justice Makarau said Diasporans could only be allowed to vote from abroad if the Electoral Act is aligned to the constitution.
“There are quite a few things that must happen before people in the Diaspora will be able to vote where they reside. People in the Diaspora will be able to vote as long as they come back to Zimbabwe on voting day and can vote from their wards,” she said.
“People in the Diaspora, like other Zimbabweans, once they are registered to vote, they are free to come back and be able to cast their ballots in their polling station which is designated in their ward. So there is nothing that stops people in the Diaspora from voting as long as they come back.
“Whether we will be able to make them vote in the Diaspora, quite a few things must happen and one of them is that the Electoral Act must be aligned to the constitution and provide the mechanism through which the Diaspora vote will be administered.”
Justice Makarau said in the event that the Electoral Act is aligned to the constitution, Zec would either set up polling stations in the different countries where Zimbabweans are resident or turn embassies into polling stations.
“That can only happen once our laws are clear about that but at the moment we don’t have a law providing for that mechanism so until there is that legal framework governing the Diaspora vote, people in the Diaspora will not be able to vote where they currently reside unless they come to Zimbabwe and vote.”
Justice Makarau said the Diasporans should also physically provide themselves to register as voters in the new Biometric Voter Registration exercise which requires their pictures, finger prints and addresses in line with the polling station based registration.
She said Zec was still to secure the $50 million required for the new voter registration but was confident that the commission would have enough time to register all voters before the 2018 elections.
“We do believe that the money will definitely be found. This is a national exercise supported by cooperating partners. Efforts have been made to raise part of the money and part of the money is already in the kit and we do believe that voter registration will be completed and that there will be money for elections,” said Justice Makarau.
She said Zec has never had a budget for by elections since 2013 but there has never been a time the electoral body failed to hold the polls. Justice Makarau dismissed the notion that the process was designed to intimidate voters, saying the polling based voting, supported by Section 22A of the Electoral Act, would reduce long queues and enable smooth administration of the polls.
She said the Biometric Voter Registration that would come up with a new voters roll would effectively deal with the issue of deceased people on the voters roll.
“The biometric voter registration kits are coming with software that detects multiple or double registrations. Your face and fingerprints will help us to weed out all those who try to register twice,” said Justice Makarau.
Meanwhile, Justice Makarau said there was no conflict of interest in her being chairperson of Zec and at the same time the secretary for the Judicial Service Commission.
She challenged anyone who feels there was any conflict to raise their case with the courts.
The next media engagement has been set for February next year.