BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has described the request by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to have the delimitation exercise before a national census as a plot to manipulate and rig votes in 2023.
Zec had indicated that it had begun the delimitation preparatory consultations to draw boundaries that will be used for 2023 harmonised election and also petitioned the ministry of Justice to help them have the process carried out before the national census due in 2022.
Zec chief executive officer Utloile Silaigwana told The Standard yesterday that his organisation had not yet proclaimed the dates for the delimitation exercise but had already begun the preparatory consultations.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 161 (1), states that delimitation shall be done after every 10 years as soon as possible after a census exercise.
Silaigwana said Zec was fully aware that the constitution allowed it to carry out the delimitation exercise after a national census but they were in a fix because the census will be carried in 2022 with the elections coming in 2023 which would make it impossible to use the results of the census within the time frame.
“We have only begun preparatory consultations for delimitation but the dates have not yet been proclaimed. We cannot wait as Zec but we fully understand that the constitution of Zimbabwe allows us to carry out the exercise after the national census,” Silaigwana said.
But MDC secretary for elections Jacob Mafume said the request by Zec was only for manipulation of votes and rigging since the voters roll is divorced from the population reality and from the country’s demographics.
“The voters roll is opposite the census; we have seen the areas that have few populations record the most votes and that has always been our query with Zec.
Instead of shifting away from the national census results, they must have the voters roll that represent the reality of the population,” he said.
“The census is a very critical process on how Zec distributes resources and how it manages itself.
“We believe that delimitation should be guided by the national census in terms of how we delimitate constituencies. Mismatch of voters and votes has always been detected. Constituencies that have no reflection to the population have been formed by the Zec.”
Mafume said Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency despite it being a resettlement area, was allegedly created by Zec for then vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa after he was defeated in Kwekwe constituency when he was still a minister in government.
“Zibagwe constituency is a fictional constituency and it was created for Mnangagwa after he failed to get a constituency,” Mafume said.
“There was no justification to have that constituency and we want to avoid that scenario and we need a census before delimitation. Zec cannot be independent from national statistics.”