Local electoral watchdogs have urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to conduct the delimitation exercise in a transparent manner.
Speaking to NewsDay, Election Resource Centre’s legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said ZEC should carry out delimitation independently and impartially. Said Tsunga:
The failure to adhere to constitutional principles guiding delimitation when carrying out the process results in marginalised groups or vulnerable communities having less opportunity than other registered voters to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.
ZEC as the administrative body mandated to carry out delimitation must conduct its duties independently and impartially.
Tsunga said that if the delimitation process is not transparent, it may lead to disputes ahead of the 2023 elections. He said:
Delimitation that is not transparent will be the foundation of potential disputes arising in 2023.
Delimitation must draw boundaries in a manner that ensures exclusivity and equality of vote.
While ZEC has taken some steps to carry out consultations, the consultations cannot be considered as ‘public’ as the public has not been given sufficient platforms to participate in the delimitation process.
The lack of public participation will negatively impact public confidence in the process.
Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust executive director Ignatious Sadziwa said:
Delimitation of electoral boundaries must mirror voter registration and census statistics without favour.
However, we feel that more civic education must be done to conscientise the electorate to allay fears of mistrust and gerrymandering.
If the process is done unfairly, legal recourse will be required as the Electoral Court is tasked to settle such disputes.
Section 161 of the Constitution says electoral boundaries must be delimited once every 10 years following a population census.
Zimbabwe conducted its latest census during the second quarter of 2022 and ZEC is expected to conduct a delimitation exercise before next year’s general elections.