Delimitation report hands opposition upper hand over Zanu PF

HARARE – President Mnangagwa has declared the names and boundaries of the wards, the House of Assembly and Senatorial constituencies after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) made its final determination.

The new names and boundaries, which shall be used in the forthcoming and any subsequent general election, were gazetted late on Monday.

Constituency boundaries used in recent elections, have since been reconfigured and renamed in the latest delimitation report.

The new constituency and ward boundaries set were informed by population densities, geographic considerations and the dictates of the country’s constitution.

ZEC handed over the Delimitation Report to President Mnangagwa last Friday, before it was gazetted  on Monday, in fulfilment of the Constitution which prescribes that it be gazetted within 14 days.

Apart from population densities, other considerations in the delimitation exercise were physical features and means of communication, and communities of interest.

This resulted in some former commercial farms being converted into peri-urban areas, while some communal areas, especially those that border urban areas, were converted from their former description to urban or peri-urban areas.

The national Constitution stipulates that ZEC must divide Zimbabwe into 210 constituencies for the purposes of electing Members of Parliament.

To achieve this, the total number of registered voters, which was 5 804 376 at the time of the delimitation, was divided by 210 constituencies.

According to ZEC, that process yielded a national average of 27 640 registered voters per constituency, a figure that satisfies Section 161(3) of the Constitution which states that; “The boundaries of constituencies must be such that, so far as possible, at the time of delimitation equal numbers of voters are registered in each constituency within Zimbabwe”.

“Thus delimitation must ensure equality of voting strength in each constituency. From a practical point, it is not possible to have an equal number of registered voters in each constituency since the population is not uniformly distributed across the country due to factors such as physical factors, land use, migration etc. The Constitution recognises the impracticability of having an equal number of voters in each constituency by allowing the Commission to depart from this requirement within a stipulated margin.”

In this case, the Constitution stipulates that “no constituency may have more than 20 percent more or fewer registered voters than other such constituencies”.

The Constitution also lists factors that need to be considered when delimiting since they are important during the exercise.

Based on the provision of s161(6), ZEC then calculated the 20 percent deviation from the national average voter registration, Statutory Instrument 14 of 2023 xiii xiii, expected in each constituency which was 27 640 registered voters.

The formula yielded a deviation of 5 528 voters and since the average number of registered voters was regarded as a stable benchmark against which delimitation of constituencies was conducted, the deviation figure was added to the national average to determine the maximum number of registered voters that a constituency delimited would contain 33 168.

“In contrast, the deviation figure was subtracted from the national average to determine the minimum number of allowable registered voters per constituency.

“This yielded a minimum of 22 112 voters. Thus, based on the provisions of s161(6), any constituency delimited in Zimbabwe was expected to fall within the minimum and maximum thresholds,” reads the delimitation report in part.

That resulted in some constituencies that did not meet the minimum threshold being collapsed while in some areas that had a huge number of registered voters, more constituencies were created.

For instance, in Harare Metropolitan Province, in view of the 952 102 registered voters at the time of the delimitation exercise, the province, which contains the capital city, Chitungwiza and Epworth, now has three new constituencies.

These were created from Harare South Constituency namely Churu, Harare South and Hunyani.

An additional constituency was created in Epworth resulting in Epworth North and Epworth South constituencies.

Harare North was reconfigured and renamed to Hatcliffe Constituency.

Bulawayo Province has a registered voter population of 270 938, and seven constituencies were reconfigured and renamed as follows: Bulawayo North, Cowdray Park, Emakhandeni-Luveve, Entumbane-Njube, Lobengula-Magwegwe, Mpopoma-Mzilikazi and PelandabaTshabalala

In Manicaland Province which has 738 624 registered voters, the constituencies of Musikavanhu and Chipinge West were merged to create Chipinge West Constituency, while a collapsed constituency formed Chikanga Constituency, after Dangamvura-Chikanga was split due to high population.

Three constituencies of Chikomba Central, Chikomba East and Chikomba West in Mashonaland East Province have since been reconfigured due to a low registered voter population, with Chikomba Central being removed, leaving Chikomba East and West. The province had a registered voter population of 641 668.

The same method was used in Masvingo Province, which had 632 320 voters, where Gutu North was collapsed and merged with other existing constituencies due to a low registered voter population, which failed to meet the minimum threshold for a constituency.

However, the collapsed constituency was replaced by the creation of the new Chiredzi Central Constituency.

In the same vein, Zaka East and Zaka West were collapsed and reconfigured to form a new Zaka South Constituency.

One of the collapsed constituencies was replaced by the creation of a new Mwenezi North Constituency.

Therefore, Masvingo Province retained its previously allocated 26 constituencies.

In Matabeleland South which has 267 617 registered voters, the province had low numbers of registered voters and was allocated 12 constituencies after Bulilima East was collapsed to meet the minimum threshold.

In Midlands Province where there were 762 928 voters, Mberengwa South Constituency was collapsed and three constituencies remain, namely, Mberengwa East, Mberengwa West and Mberengwa Central.

The collapsed constituency was replaced by the creation of a new Mkoba North Constituency in the same province.

Harare Metropolitan Province had to be allocated 30 constituencies due to the high number of registered voters.

The province could not maintain the previous 29 constituencies, without compromising the 20 percent allowable maximum threshold.

Matabeleland South Province was allocated 12 constituencies due to the low number of registered voters, and could not maintain the previous 13 constituencies without compromising the 20 percent allowable minimum threshold.

In general, no voters were moved from their polling stations. Registered voters in each ward and constituency will vote at their usual polling stations although their ward number or name of constituency may have changed.

The Constitution provides that once every 10 years, on a date or within a period fixed by ZEC so as to fall as soon as possible after a population census, the Commission must conduct a delimitation of the electoral boundaries into which Zimbabwe is to be divided.

The last delimitation was conducted in 2007/8 and resulted in the drawing of 210 House of Assembly Constituencies, 60 Senatorial Constituencies and 1 958 local authority wards. The delimited electoral boundaries remained in use during the 2008, 2013 and 2018 harmonised elections.

However, due to population dynamics and changes in land use since the last delimitation exercise, there has been a growing need for constituencies and wards to be redrawn to respond to the changes.

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