HUNDREDS of Zimbabweans aligned to former deputy president Joice Mujuru’s new party – Zimbabwe People First – stormed their embassy in Pretoria on Thursday, where they demanded the right to vote in elections in their country while in SA, where they are based.
In a memorandum handed to the embassy’s Simon Chisorochengwe by People First convener in South Africa Lawrence Mavhaire, the Zimbabweans said they refused to be disenfranchised simply because they crossed the border.
“Next Monday we are supposed to celebrate independence. We are supposed to celebrate the independence which was hard fought. These people here are black Zimbabweans, but they cannot vote, under a black government. Where is the independence? What do we celebrate? These children had to flee their land,” said Mavhaire.
“In this country, we have worse names than dogs. We are doing this because we want to go home.”
The protesters, wearing white People First T-shirts, became agitated when Chisorochengwe explained that Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo was “not around”.
“We can only be nice for so long. We are being civil here because we are asking, appealing to the democracy in you, if it is still there – to say take this memorandum back home and let the powers that be sit and decide because their children are suffering,” Mavhaire told Chisorochengwe.
“We are fighting for freedom. Don’t test us. We are not testing you. We are simply asking you to do the job that you are being paid to do.”
He said Zimbabweans were exposed to extreme poverty across South Africa while their representatives were “in the splendour” of their embassy.
“Our first issue, the matter of voting is constitutional. Our constitution says a Zimbabwean eligible to vote must vote. Leaving the country doesn’t make one a less Zimbabwean. Crossing the border doesn’t take away Zimbabweaness.”
Mavhaire said when all channels fail, the last option will be shutting down the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria.
After receiving the protesters’ memorandum, Chisorochengwe rushed back into the embassy premises, without answering any questions from journalists.
Darlington Sibanda, the party’s youth leader in SA said the issue of the diaspora vote was non-negotiable.
Mujuru was booted out of Zanu PF and the Zimbabwe government in December 2014 at the sixth Zanu PF congress after a spirited attack by Zim’s First Lady Grace Mugabe during her Meet the People Tour rallies who alleged Mujuru was plotting to assassinate her 92-year-old husband.
After keeping Zimbabweans guessing over her next move, Mujuru launched the Zimbabwe People First movement with other former ousted Zanu PF heavyweights.
Mujuru has said her People First would give the vote to millions of Zimbabweans based outside the country.
She said her party would repeal the controversial Public Order and Security Act, realign the Criminal Code Codification and Reform Act.
Mujuru said her Zimbabwe People First would ensure the Electoral Act fully complies with the county’s constitutional provisions and requirements. She said her party would respect property rights through addressing historical compulsory acquisition by way of compensation.
Meanwhile in Harare, today, thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets of Harare on Thursday protesting against the government, local media reported.
According to media reports up to 8 000 people took part in the rally organized by the main country’s opposition party Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T).
During the Tsvangirai addressed the demonstrators with a speech criticising Zanu-PF’s failure to change bring about positive economic change. -ANA