Zimbabweans protest for right to vote

Demonstrators outside the Zimbabwean consulate in Cape Town demanded their democratic rights

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Photo of protesters
A protest was held outside the Zimbabwean consulate in Cape Town by Zimbabweans demanding the right to vote in their country’s upcoming presidential elections. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

On Friday morning, about 30 Zimbabweans demonstrated outside the Zimbabwean Consulate in Cape Town. The protest was organised by the Democracy Restoration Party (DRP), a political party formed by Zimbabwean refugees in Cape Town in 2011, under the leadership of Brian Mubvumbi.

The group wore branded party regalia – yellow T-shirts and black caps. Struggle songs were sung and slogans chanted denouncing the government of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

In a press statement, the DRP said: “The Zimbabwean government has denied the diaspora an opportunity to cast their votes in their countries of residence. The government blamed lack of funds as the main reason for the decision. This is inconsistent with the 2013 constitution which gives every Zimbabwean the right to vote; hence we demand the reversal of the decision.”

It added that: “Zimbabweans have been displaced by socioeconomic hardships and political violence.”

The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission has said members of the Zimbabwean diaspora will have to register biometrically and return to Zimbabwe to vote. 

DRP Secretary General Marshal Matongo said, “The constitution says everyone has a right to vote. So when I live in South Africa it doesn’t make me a South African. I am still a Zimbabwean and it’s my right to vote because I am carrying a Zimbabwean Identity card.”

Some protesters held placards reading ‘Zimbabwe youths stop being abused’. Selule Sibanda, secretary for the DRP, explained, saying that desperate unemployed youths were being used by ZANU-PF to incite violence against opposition party members in the run up to the 2018 presidential elections.

The youngest protester was 19. He said that he came to Cape Town when he was 17 after dropping out of school because he couldn’t pay fees to take his education further. His mother is a widow. He is doing construction work to help her and his two siblings back in Zimbabwe.

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