“I am coming home next month; I am coming to vote cousie.”
My South Africa-based cousin sent me the above message on Monday evening followed by a long WhatsApp call where she told me how excited she was to be returning home in time for the elections.
“South Africa has changed. Life is way too tough now, worse if you are foreigner. If it was that easy I would just pack and come back home,” she conceded.
I understood her feeling as this seems to be a common sentiment amongst many living in South Africa. In fact I know quite a number of people who have come back to Zimbabwe ‘to suffer in their motherland’.
While my relative was quick to say she suspects the outcome is a foregone conclusion, she was content in the knowledge that at least she would have played her part.
Our chat instantly gave me an idea for this week’s column: how the past and current regime have denied Zimbabweans living outside the country their right to vote.
More than one million Zimbos are said to be working and living outside the country, mainly in Botswana, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
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These Zimbabweans in the diaspora have been lobbying for their right to vote since 2000s but the government has thus far ignored their calls.
Only citizens with diplomatic positions are allowed to vote externally; the rest have to find their way home if they wish to cast the ballot.
A few living in neighboring countries like Botswana and SA, might find time to come and vote but for many it is simply impossible.
I guess the fear to allow external voting is because the regime believes those people out there have a score to settle.
Many Zimbos living in the diaspora left because of economic and political turmoil that has characterized Zimbabwe in the last two decades.
For that reason, I am sure the majority of them yearn for change – change of governance which they hope would turnaround the country’s economic fortunes for the good of the masses.
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And if that happens, many out there would have a reason to come back, after all there is no place like home.
So you can imagine where they would put their X if allowed to cast their vote from wherever they are! Because of this, the regime are happy to let them complain every election year rather than grant them the right to vote.
Meanwhile the countdown continues as the two arch rivals, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, continue to hold campaign rallies around the country in their bid to lure voters.
Independent presidential candidate and former Zanu PF strongman, Saviour Kasukuwere, was at the time of going to print, yet to discover if the Supreme Court will rule in his favour to contest in the elections.