- Southern Africa
- Politics - Governance
Zimbabwean Diaspora to participate in crafting new Constitution
About four million Zimbabweans live outside the country
In a landmark development, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora will be afforded a rare platform to contribute in the crafting of a home grown constitution which is viewed as key to holding free and fair elections.
About four million Zimbabweans are estimated to be living out of the country with the bulk of them living as refugees.
Co-chair of the parliamentary select committee, Douglas Mwonzora, said this would be possible through setting up of websites.
"As the select committee responsible for the writing of the constitution we are going to engage those in the Diaspora in this process. Principals of the Inclusive Government have no business in this issue because they are bound by the GPA, which says every Zimbabwean must participate in the process, and we can not ignore more than 4 million people who are in the Diaspora,” said Mwonzora.
He added that one does not cease to be Zimbabwean because he or she is living in the Diaspora.
Currently Zimbabweans abroad are not allowed to vote in any election.
South Africa is home to close to two million Zimbabweans with the rest found in United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and other European counties.
The Diasporas have been lobbying for their involvement saying they are contributing significantly to the economy of the country. Nearly every household has a relative who sends money on monthly basis to sustain families.
However, Mwonzora dismissed claims that Zimbabweans in the diaspora supported the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as most were economic refugees.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora remits at least US$ 550 million per year to the Zimbabwe Economy. More than a quarter of Zimbabwe’s GDP and budget making them a key component of the Zimbabwe Economy.
“There is no doubt that it is the Diaspora that prevented a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe through remittances in the past few years. There is also no doubt whatsoever that the Diaspora is an indispensable player in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe in whatever form” said Eunice Chiwara of the South Africa based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.
Some political analysts say that though the Inclusive Government is encouraging Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to invest in the country, it is silent on their inclusion in participating in politics or giving them assurance that they would not be prosecuted should they ever return to the country.
A countrywide outreach programme to gather views is expected to start on January 10 and end within 65 days.
Since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has been operating under the Lancaster House Constitution negotiated in 1979 that has changed over 18 times. Some of the amendments to the Constitution have vested too much power in the executive arm of Government, with little or no checks and balances from the other organs.