Source: ZEC pledges to address delimitation concerns | The Herald (Local News)
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has pledged to deal with concerns raised by Parliament and those it received from the President next week as it prepares the final delimitation report which it hopes to be ready by the end of this month in line with Constitutional provisions.
ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba made the commitment at State House after receiving from President Mnangagwa Parliament’s report on the preliminary delimitation report produced last month.
The President said he would submit his own views on the preliminary report to ZEC on Monday.
“Parliament presented their report covering their reaction to your preliminary report, but beyond that they have gone further, they have made their observations, they have compiled their debate in Parliament which can give you an insight into their feelings resulting in the compilation of their report to you,” he said.
Justice Chigumba said ZEC would consider all the views raised by Parliament.
“The President had called us today for him to formally handover the report approved by Parliament which was written by the ad-hoc committee which was formed by Parliament. We have received the report and we have assured him that we will have a look at all of the recommendations and concerns which were raised by Parliament.
“In terms of the way forward, we are still to receive corrections from the President himself which we anticipate he will do in the course of next week and thereafter we will gather as a commission and look at all of the recommendations holistically and look at those we can accede to and those we cannot accede to and we will compile our report for His Excellency where we will state our reasons for acceding to certain recommendations and perhaps not acceding to some,” she said.
The production of the final report would be done in line with Constitutional requirements, she said.
“As ZEC we do have timelines because what we work with is the constitutional requirement that the final delimitation report be gazetted six months before the next elections. So in terms of timelines the next election period is likely to be between 26 July and 24 August so that means we ought to be able to gazette the final report some time between the end of January and mid-February,” she added.
Justice Chigumba also denied criticism that ZEC had misinterpreted the provision that they could vary the number of voters in a ward or constituency by plus or minus 20 percent from the national average.
She said the Constitution provided them with a mathematical formula where they were not supposed to delimit more than 210 constituencies. So ZEC took the number of registered voters nationally and divided it by 210 to come up with the national average to ensure that constituencies had equal number of registered voters.
“So we come up with our national average but now we have to delimit wards as well and we know that provinces have different figures in terms of registered voters so in order to delimit wards, the way in which we interpret the plus or minus 20 percent is that it’s a discretion which has been given to the Commission where we use that variance on a sliding scale depending on other secondary factors provided for in the Constitution like community of interest and geography.
“For instance, we know that the geography in the rural areas is different from urban areas. So, the Constitution gives us the 20 percent variance to then take into account and say, for example, this is a province which has less people and more mountains. Because this is a province which doesn’t have infrastructure, to what extent do we then use the 20 percent to take the absence of infrastructure in this province? So, the 20 percent variance, there is no miscalculation or something that went wrong.
“This is not our first delimitation. We were part of the delimitation in 2007 and the technical experts who were part of the delimitation then were among the technical experts that we used in this delimitation. We had institutional memory, so nothing went wrong. We used our discretion in the manner we were supposed to use it in terms of the Constitution and if there was a misinterpretation of what that discretion meant, we are going to correct it,” Justice Chigumba said.