HARARE – Parliament yesterday adopted the report by the special all-party ad-hoc committee it set up to analyse the delimitation of constituencies and wards produced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission last month and will now submit this to President Mnangagwa for onward transmission to ZEC.
The adoption of the report followed two days of debate by both the National Assembly and Senate.
The ad hoc committee included representatives of Zanu PF, the MDC-A and the CCC, roughly in proportion to the number of legislators who take their whip in Parliament, plus a representative of the 18 senator chiefs who do not belong to a political party. This all-party approach produced a lot of consensus and unanimity.
The committee was described as ad hoc, since it was a once-off, specially appointed. There is no permanent committee that studies delimitations, which take place every 10 years, so a special temporary committee representing all potential views was needed.
In the report, the special committee said ZEC failed to follow procedures that include delimiting some ward boundaries below the maximum and minimum thresholds as stipulated by the Constitution and also noted that it did not provide sufficient information to justify the changes in ward and constituency boundaries it made.
Parliamentarians that contributed to the debate echoed similar sentiments raised by the committee citing situations that occurred in their own constituencies or provinces. After yesterday’s debate, legislators voted to adopt the ad-hoc committee’s report including the issues raised by legislators. Parliament was recalled early to study and debate the report.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the adopted report will be forwarded to the President after compilation of issues raised.
“What has happened is that when the report was submitted to the President he caused it to be submitted in Parliament which we did on January 6 and Parliament resolved to come up with a committee which was made up of a few individuals to look into the report, come up with recommendations which would then be put to the Houses to see whether they accept them or not.
“What has been happening in the past two days is that both Houses, the National Assembly and Senate, have been debating that report from the ad-hoc committee with a view of adopting it or rejecting it. So what has happened after the debate is that the Houses resolved that let’s submit the report as per the recommendations from the ad-hoc committee to His Excellency for onward transmission to ZEC detailing areas that Parliament wants corrected by ZEC,” he said.
He said the next course of action would not be determined by Parliament.
“Our job is not to look at timeframes but to do what is required of us to do by the Constitution. What was required of us was to look at the preliminary report, make our recommendations and submit them to the President. Parliament does not dictate to the President what to do after that,” Minister Ziyambi said.
According to the Constitution the President will study Parliament’s recommendations and then inform ZEC which of those concerns have merit.
The Constitutional procedures then is that ZEC will effect any corrections to the report and thereafter present the final delimitation report to the President for gazetting.
In its report, the committee said issues raised, particularly those inconsistent with provisions of Section 161 of the Constitution, will be resolved before the finalisation of the report on the delimitation exercise. This section goes into some detail in a number of clauses over how the boundaries or constituencies and wards are to be determined.
“As espoused in Section 119 of the Constitution, Parliament has an obligation to protect the Constitution and ensure that the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level, act constitutionally and in the national interest,” the ad-hoc committee said in its report.
The ad-hoc committee also noted that ZEC had used figures of registered voters instead of the entire population as envisaged in the Constitution.
“Section 161 (1) of the Constitution requires delimitation to take place as soon as possible after a population census. Population is a crucial consideration for delimitation and is listed in Section 161 (6) (f) as one of the factors to be considered in attaining equal number of voters in a constituency or ward.
“The population census contemplated in this section is the Final Census report. The Committee noted that ZEC considered the registered voters’ population and not the total population. According to the report, they only used the census preliminary report to correlate the registered voters’ population with the adult population.
“The use of the selective segment of the population census which is referred to as the adult population in the ZEC report is perceived to be a non-conformity to the constitutional values and principles enunciated in Section 3 (2) (j) and (k) which relates to the equitable sharing of national resources, including land and devolution funds respectively.
“A population census measures the entire population including non-voters and children who are also affected by delimitation of electoral boundaries in respect of service delivery,” the report reads.
The committee also noted that ZEC had not uniformly applied the threshold that no constituency or ward may have more than 20 percent more or fewer registered voters than other constituencies or wards.
“The collapsing of constituencies and wards affects the legitimate expectations of stakeholders who may be adversely affected by that decision. The explanation by ZEC during the oral evidence was that constituencies with fewer registered voters were collapsed to give registered voters to the constituencies which had more numbers of the registered voters.
“However, in some instances, the formula was not applied consistently as wards or constituencies with more registered voters were collapsed to boost numbers in wards of constituencies with fewer numbers.” – Herald