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Monday, January 30, 2023
HomeNewsChamisa Raises Alarm Over Delimitation Process

Chamisa Raises Alarm Over Delimitation Process

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Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader, Nelson Chamisa says his party is worried and concerned over the manner in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC0 is conducting the delimitation process as he alleges that his party is being sidelined and its concerns ignored.

Delimitation in the context of elections in Zimbabwe is the fixing of electoral boundaries, the process of dividing the country into constituencies and wards for the purposes of electing persons as constituency members of the National Assembly and as councillors of local authorities.

The last delimitation was conducted in 2008, fifteen years ago, and there were complaints then that constituency boundaries had been gerrymandered

Speaking exclusively to 263Chat. Chamisa accused ZEC of favouring ZanuPF by expanding rural constituencies where the ruling party has traditionally had a stronghold.

“Delimitation is supposed to be a product of stakeholders, actors, political parties, civil society and the citizens in general. I can tell you that we have not been sufficiently consulted. The delimitation process is being done to advantage certain constituencies, particularly the rural constituencies. I can tell you on record that we as a movement forwarded to ZEC our own proposals through the various legally permitted avenues in the local authorities and we said certain urban authorities have to have more wards because the voter population has increased.
That was disregarded by the Minister of local government, July Moyo and of course by ZEC,” Chamisa said.

Section 160 of the Constitution states that the ZEC must divide Zimbabwe into 210 constituencies, for the purpose of electing Members of Parliament, and divide local authority areas into wards according to the number of members to be elected to the local authorities concerned.

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However, the opposition leader said the mechanism and methods being used to look at the 20% requirement in the act, are actually being interpreted in such a way that they will have a disparity of almost 40% in terms of one constituency and the other, particularly one with the highest number of voters and that with the least number of voters.

“So that is a big issue, we concerned, we are worried about gerrymandering, which is like looking at areas where they don’t have support, they will look at areas where they think they have support
They will then try to chop and change, cut into pieces certain constituencies, again with an ulterior motive to benefit ZanuPF.

“That worries us, we have raised those concerns with ZEC, with all the stakeholders, we still await their feedback on this but we are really concerned,” Chamisa added.

Chamisa’s comments also follow similar fears by other stakeholders who expressed dissatisfaction with ZEC during a recent Twitter Spaces engagement organised by elections watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN). Last month, ZESN said despite ZEC’s consultative meetings going on, reports by the Long Term Obersevor indicate that the level of engagement and consultation by ZEC was very low.

The process is already under scrutiny as there are fears that it will fail to meet deadlines which will make it be applicable during next year’s elections.

Under section 158(1)(a) of the Constitution polling in a general election must take place not more than 30 days (i.e. one month) before the end of Parliament’s five-year term, which runs from the date the President-elect was sworn in after the last general election.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in for his current term on the 26th of August 2018, so Parliament’s five-year term will end five years later, on the 26th of August 2023.  Polling day in the 2023 general election must be no more than 30 days before that, which is no earlier than the 28th of July 2023.

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Hence if the newly-delimited electoral boundaries are to be used in the 2023 general election, the delimitation exercise should be completed by the 28th of January 2023, six months before polling day in the general election and just over four months from now.

Independent elections expert, Tawanda Chimhinhi recently told delegates at the political parties meeting on delimitation in Bulawayo that the process is highly vulnerable to manipulation and is highly politicized.

“When looking at the electoral processes, delimitation is one of the most vulnerable processes. This is the most politicized process, not only in Zimbabwe but the world over. You hear about it in the most developed of nations. It is crucial to try and eliminate the vulnerabilities. The elimination of these vulnerabilities must improve the credibility of elections and should eliminate instances where elections are disputed,” Chimhini said.

Another opposition member, Herbert Chamuka told 263Chat that ZEC must be fair in executing the process or else it should be disbanded for siding with one party.

“What ZEC is doing is political, we need an independent commission to deal with this process because this commission is trying to further the interests of the ruling party. Opposition parties come together and ensure that ZEC does the right thing,” Chamuka said.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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