HomeLettersWho will the diaspora vote for?

Who will the diaspora vote for?

A RECENT article in the Daily Mirror read “MDC to take postal ballot war to UN”.

In all fairness, every Zimbabwean should be given the opportunity to participate

in any national elections such as the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2005.

It is understandable that the MDC is taking the initiative with the objective of facilitating the participation in the elections of Zimbabweans living abroad.

That being the case, one is given the impression that the initiative is being pursued with the unexpressed understanding that the majority of the Zimbabweans in the diaspora will vote for the MDC.

But will they?

It is very possible that a sizeable number of the Zimbabweans in the diaspora are asylum seekers, a situation that gives them “refugee status” in whichever country they may be.

It is also possible that a large number of Zimbabweans in the diaspora did not leave the country because of the political situation obtaining in Zimbabwe today, but primarily because of the prevailing economic situation – in particular those professionals who were gainfully employed. It is likely that quite a good number of them are gainfully employed and are better off than they were back home.

Honestly speaking, home is always best, no matter what. But should the political situation in Zimbabwe change today and the MDC assumes office, will the economic situation on the ground automatically follow suit and entice everybody to return home on the next flight?

What does the assumption of office by the MDC mean to someone holding a refugee status in Britain or New Zealand?

I recall at Independence in 1980, most Zimbabweans who were studying abroad on refugee scholarships did not welcome the Lancaster House Agreement, wishing the war would continue a little longer because the Independence of Zimbabwe would mean loss of their refugee status and returning home before completion of their university degrees, among other things.

A good number of Zimbabweans actually returned home midway through their studies because their scholarships were cancelled as they were no longer considered refugees.

Similarly today, a Zimbabwean in the diaspora holding a refugee status will lose that status and will be required to return home by the host country without further delay.

But then what are the prospects of that person getting a job the following day after landing at Harare Airport, given the prevailing economic situation today?

Is that person then, given the choice, going to vote and lose the refugee status? Is it not possible then that the MDC may have the moral support of the people in the diaspora but not their vote? Is it not possible that the people in the diaspora would want the MDC to remain in opposition so that they will in turn maintain their status?

I put it that the people in the diaspora – of course not all of them – are likely to vote for the status quo so that they stay put, and MDC stays in opposition to give credence to their claims for political asylum.



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