Diaspora Vote Not Our Problem: Makarau
As the country gears up for the highly anticipated 2018 elections, there is no joy for Zimbabweans in the diaspora after Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says only a constitutional amendment will guarantee their right to vote.
Addressing a media engagement in the capital on Wednesday, ZEC Chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said until the constitution is amended, Zimbabweans in the diaspora will have to flock home to vote in the 2018 elections as the electoral management body is currently not mandated to ensure their participation.
“The issue of diaspora vote is not a ZEC problem but a legislative problem. We need to align the law in order to adopt that. At the moment the law says those in the diaspora must come to vote at their registered polling stations.
“We take into consideration that everyone has the right to vote but as long as we do not align the current legislative framework, we will continue with the current status quo,” Makarau said
Turning to ZEC’s state of preparedness ahead of the 2018 plebiscite, Makarau said they are currently conducting a polling station mapping exercise using the same polling station used in the 2013 elections as a baseline.
She added that although they have received $900 000 funding for the exercise, they still need more financial assistance if the process is to be completed by the April 2017 deadline.
“We have the financial support to complete the mapping exercise. We requested $900k and we have used $400 000 of that money and we are yet to use the other $500 000. We are however appealing for more financial support for us to complete the process,” said Makarau
She also revealed that government will now be funding the Biometric Voting Registration (BVR) taking away from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
She said “12 companies submitted their bids to provide biometric voting kits and seven were deemed non compliant meaning we have five companies remaining with a chance to get the tender.
“Of the five, three final companies will be selected and from those, we will then come up with the winner. However, government has taken over the tendering process from UNDP and it will fully fund the winner of the tender,” Makarau said.
Makarau however said the three remaining tending vendors will have to come and demonstrate on the ground how the BVR system works before a final decision is reached