Dual Citizenship and the Diaspora.

More worrying are those who have been disenfranchised who are outside the
country and wish Zimbabwe the worst no matter what. These unfortunately
include powerful forces that control the international flow of capital and
hold the key to future economic progress. These are mainly whites and hate
Mugabe to the core and are most unlikely to change that view. Unfortunately
they matter when it comes to the economic revival of Zimbabwe.

Thus writes Vince Musewe in a recent article [http://www.politicsweb.co.za/]. Really, the disenfranchised outside the country are mainly white?  I thought that nearly two million black Zimbabweans had fled and are currently disenfranchised, or may not be if it is true that dual citizenship will be allowed under the new constitution. However, as much as Vince Musewe thinks that the problem with Zimbabwe is that we need to look on the bright side of life, see the silver linings that are there somewhere, and engage in optimism for the future, the problem for the future is whether the people will be able to choose the party and the leaders that will enable them to feel optimistic about the future. As it stands, they won’t have any say at all even if we get a new constitution, because they will be disqualified unless we also change the electoral laws, and even more important, change the office of the Registrar-General.

There seems little possibility that we can hold a referendum, get Parliament to pass the new constitution with a two-thirds majority, get the President to sign it into law, and then amend the electoral laws to conform with the new constitution all before June 2013. So, whilst it is very nice that we can be both South African and Zimbabwean (or, heavens forbid, both Zimbabwean and British), this will have no bearing on the most important election (1980 apart) in Zimbabwe’s history. It is true, as Vince Musewe points out that we live in a polarized country, but it might be far less polarized than Vince thinks. If the diaspora were able to vote, how might the polls look  then, because most opinion polls suggest that the vast majority of the disenfranchised diaspora would vote for MDC-T, and not merely as a protest against ZANU PF.

Could this finally be a reality?

Imagine this scenario next June: All in the diaspora are able to vote, and then there really are 6 million voters able to vote. Assume that ZANU PF gets much the same as they did in March 2008 – about 1.2 million – which is probable according to most opinion polls, then the MDC-T gets somewhere in the region of nearly 5 million votes. This is the fate that ZANU PF has been avoiding since 2000, and why so many were disenfranchised in 2001, why so many are disqualified because they cannot meet the arbitrary requirements of the Registrar-General for registration, and why dual citizenship and the diaspora is such an important issue for the future.

Optimism is great, Vince, but rights are better, and better because citizens then have control of their lives and make decisions about their lives rather than letting the elites do it for them. After all, and as an economist, surely the market depends on freedom of choice and action, and how can anyone be entrepreneurial if he or she cannot have choice.


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