Shame on Zimbabwe. Can they really afford to throw away 3 a 4 million votes?

Dear Family and Friends, (SOURCE:- Cathy Buckle)

Zimbabweans are so exhausted with the year long struggle to get money,
their own money out of the banks, that almost everything else seems of
little consequence. How can you worry about elections when you have to
spend half of every day outside the door of the bank in order to
withdraw your own money? How can you even think about the voter’s roll
when all the bank allows you to withdraw is twenty dollars and it’s
all in 25 cent Bond coins? Sometimes it even seems as if the year long
shortage of cash is deliberately not being addressed or resolved by
our government so that we do exactly what we’re doing and spend
every day worrying about cash and don’t follow or even care about
events of critical national importance.

There was a by-election in Chiwundura last weekend. Two election
watchdog organizations, the ERC and ZESN said they had found massive
irregularities. These included: 863 people registered more than once
and appearing at different polling stations; 724 voters with similar
first names, surnames, gender, and date of birth but with different ID
numbers and at different polling stations; 132 voters with ID numbers
that are invalid; 218 voters with ID numbers with a suffix that
doesn’t conform to the National Registration Act. The Executive
director of the ERC described the “worst case scenario” where
a person with exactly the same ID number and personal details were found
on the roll at three different polling stations.

The head of the government’s Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC),
Justice Rita Makarau said she “welcomed this sort of engagement”
and then said it was: “important that we highlight the fact that in
that part of the country there can be more than two Rosemary Moyos
living in different parts of Gweru and I have been reassured that this
is the case.” Mrs. Makarau may be reassured but I don’t think we
are as we wonder how many polling stations we are each registered at,
how we will know, and if our dead relations are still on voters rolls
numerous different polling stations.

In a press interview last week Mrs. Makarau said that people with ALIEN
on their ID cards: “Must regularize their identification particulars
to show they are Zimbabwean citizens.”

“Regularize” an absurd word for a so far impossible achievement
for multiple thousands of born and resident Zimbabweans cursed with
the word ALIEN on their ID cards. I am one of them who, because my
parents were not born in Zimbabwe, being classified as an ALIEN.
Zimbabwe’s new Constitution of 2013 says that if you are born in
Zimbabwe you are automatically a citizen but the legislation has not
been changed to reflect the provision of the Constitution.

As I have done, you can arm yourself with every conceivable document
that proves you are a born and resident Zimbabwean and try and
“regularize” your ID to reflect that you are a citizen but it
means nothing when you stand in front of officials at run down
registration offices.

At my local Parliamentary Constituency office, a deep gully adorns the
road outside and a rusty, barely legible signboard mostly obscured by
the branches of an overhanging tree proclaims that this is the
“Parliamentary Constituency Information Centre.” This is where you
go to register births and deaths, get national Identity Documents and
register to vote. It’s only a year until elections In Zimbabwe and
the new Constitution guarantees my citizenship by birth and also
allows me to have dual citizenship but officials in the office say
they have not received instruction on this matter and direct me to
Makombe building in Harare.

It’s an 180 kilometer round trip to Makombe Building, the Harare
headquarters of the Ministry of Local Government. Navigating the
hundreds of people, a rabbit warren of narrow corridors and dirty
doorways I finally find the right place, the right office, and the
right queue. I get to the front and despite not being greeted or
acknowledged, I launch into proving I am who I say I am. As soon as
the words ALIEN, New Constitution and Dual Citizenship are out of my
mouth the woman stops looking at my documents and I can see the
encounter is about to come to an end. “We have not been informed
about the new constitution and dual citizenship,” she says. This
despite the fact that this is the country’s main Citizenship office
and the new Constitution was adopted four years ago, in 2013. “The
legislation has not been changed,” the official says.

So, Justice Rita Makaru, in response to your instruction that we
“regularize” our Identity documents: We are trying but failing.

There are multiple thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of resident
Zimbabweans like me who were disenfranchised after being declared
ALIENS if their parents were born outside the country. There are an
estimated three to four million Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora who
are now ALIENS because they have taken on foreign passports to be able
to live and work abroad. They too will be denied their right to vote
in the 2018 election if citizenship status and dual citizenship laws
are not changed and changed very soon.

So many people could be speaking out, demanding their birth right,
demanding that the laws be changed in order to be aligned with
Zimbabwe’s new Constitution. Little voices like mine are getting
lost, going unheard, while the opposition giants fight for status,
positions, and power instead of fighting for the rights of the very
people who would be voting for them. They will lose our votes because
we will not be entitled to vote. Can they really afford to throw away
3 or 4 million votes? Until next time, thanks for reading, love Cathy
21st July 2017. Copyright � Cathy Buckle.

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