Window set to close for unregistered voters to influence delimitation

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s voters roll will close for delimitation on May 30, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced on Tuesday.

ZEC said the delimitation exercise – the drawing of constituency boundaries – will run from June 1 until December 31.

Voter registration will remain open at ZEC’s district and provincial centres, but any data captured after May 30 will not be used for delimitation.

ZEC is redrawing the boundaries of constituencies ahead of general elections expected in the second half of 2023.

Priscilla Chigumba, the ZEC chairperson, said they would invite registered voters to inspect the voters’ roll in June, which will be followed by the publication of national and provincial voter population figures which will be used to set new constituency boundaries.

“The commission shall, as far as is practicable, entertain representation from voters, political parties and other interested persons bodies at national, provincial and district level through the various committees that have been established at each level,” Chigumba said.

The process of demarcating boundaries is important in ensuring fair representation of the electorate, but the opposition is suspicious that ZEC – whose impartiality has been questioned – could collapse some constituencies in its strongholds while adding constituencies where the ruling Zanu PF party is traditionally strong.

Delimitation in 2000 led to the carving of 120 constituencies which were maintained for the 2005 elections. In 2008, the last delimitation, 210 constituencies were created following an amendment to the electoral law.

In 2008, ZEC said based on the registration figures, a constituency should have around 26,000 voters while allowing a variance of +/- 20 percent above or lower than that number.

This created problems when the final boundaries were released with some constituencies way below or over the permitted 20 percent variance. For instance, Harare South 76,287 (+280%), Goromonzi South 73,031 (+269%), Epworth 71,835 (+265%) and Dangamvura 60,651 (+224%) were way too big, whereas Insiza South 14,694 (-54.2%), Chikomba East 14,513 (-53.6%), Wedza South 14,295 (-53%) and Gutu North 14,165 (-52%) had too few voters to meet the minimum to constitute a constituency. In fact, 106 of the 210 constituencies were outside the 20 percent variance.

Areas with traditionally low voter registration like Matabeleland South, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North could find themselves with fewer constituencies, affecting citizens’ representation in parliament.

How is Delimitation Done?

– ZEC first establishes the national voter population

– Let’s say the voter population is 5,600,000

– Then divide 5.6 million by 210 constituencies (= 26,600)

– 26,000 is then used as the measure of average size of a constituency (+/- 20% flexibility)

– You then divide the population of a province by 26,000

– Using Bulawayo’s 258,000 voters, divided by 26,000, city would lose at least 2 of its current 12 seats to remain with 10

– Using Harare’s 900,000 voters, divided by 26,000, the province would have 34 constituencies – a gain of five from the present 29

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