Zimbabwe: Biti Confirms Con-Court Diaspora Vote Fight
Harare lawyer and opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Tendai Biti, has confirmed that a Constitutional Court challenge is underway against the refusal by electoral authorities to allow diaspora voting.
The former finance minister said they would also challenge the proof of residence requirement during voter registration which has been imposed by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau this week stated that exiled Zimbabweans would not be able to vote in the countries where they are based.
She said those keen to vote in next year's elections must travel to Zimbabwe twice; first to register and then return to cast their ballots when the election is called.
The proof of residence requirement has also been condemned with opposition parties saying it would potentially disenfranchise lodgers, youths and the homeless.
Speaking on the side-lines of his party's meeting in Harare this week, Biti said the ZEC position would be challenged at the highest court in the land.
"The Diaspora themselves are not just seated they have been demonstrating demanding their rights. They are also bringing court applications to the courts of Zimbabwe to assert their rights," said Biti.
"It's not only the case of the Diaspora; we are also concerned about the restrictive residence requirements that are being insisted by ZEC in a country where 63% of people are tenants and where less than 27% of the population actually have immovable property."
"The residence requirements are unconstitutional because they take away voting rights of the majority of the voting public in Zimbabwe and there will be a challenge in the courts to contest this which we see as absurd."
He added; "The next election will be polling station based, so a person should be able to declare that I want to vote at this particular polling station, and what is the incentive of someone in Plumtree to say I want to vote in Chimanimani, and in this set up it does not happen.
"These restrictive measures are being put up by a desperate regime which is doing what it knows best, that is to avert and steal the people's will."
Zimbabwe holds fresh elections next year with 94-year-old President Robert Mugabe looking for another five-year-term in office.
Mugabe has ruled the country since independence in 1980. Despite presiding over the collapse of the country's economy which drove millions into exile, the veteran leader refuses to retire.