THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has begun a delimitation exercise, carving out new polling stations and disbanding others in preparation for the 2018 harmonised elections, NewsDay has leant.
Source: Zec rolls out delimitation exercise ahead of 2018 polls – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 2, 2017
NQOBANI NDLOVU/BLESSED MHLANGA
The electoral body said it will consult interested parties in the mapping process, to avoid a repeat of past furore when it was accused of re-drawing constituencies in a manner that gave Zanu PF an electoral advantage.
Zec described delimitation as the process of dividing the country into constituencies and wards for the purposes of elections of persons to constituency seats in the National Assembly and of councillors to local authorities.
“The Commission shall consult all interested parties when determining the location of polling stations and their areas for purposes of subsection (1). Zec personnel will be visiting the wards within the City and where necessary will engage stakeholders.
“They will verify some of the polling station area boundaries that have been demarcated. The same polling stations used in the 2013 general elections will be used, whereas some polling stations will need to be moved and some new ones created so as to be closer to serve the electorate. The process is on-going until the next electoral stage,” Zec said in a letter dated January 26, addressed to Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Town Clerk, Christopher Dube.
The letter was contained in the BCC latest minutes of the engineering and services committee report.
“When the National Team arrives in the City in mid — March 2017 for the final verification, we will require the services of one of your Cartographers as the case was in the previous exercise in 2016. You are, please requested to cascade this information to councillors and other structures so as to facilitate the smooth flow of the exercise,” Zec added.
Opposition parties said the outcome of Zec’s delimitation exercise ahead of the 2008 elections exposed glaring gerrymandering in favour of Zanu PF.
Zec allocated 143 constituencies to communal lands and the remaining 67 to urban and peri-urban areas from the 210 contested seats. The opposition parties queried the outcome, arguing this was a deliberate plan as Zanu PF had since Independence received its main support from rural areas.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) has challenged Zec, the police and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to jointly fight the culture of violence that has preceded national elections so that it can be eliminated in the 2018 general polls.
The call followed a series of meetings held by MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai in Mashonaland East, where traditional leaders expressed fear of violence and mistrust over the proposed Biometric Voters Roll (BVR) ahead of the forthcoming polls.
Zesn national director, Rindai Chipfunde Vava said the fear which has been used in determining outcomes in disputed elections can only be dealt by the critical players’ joint approach in the polls.
“The Zec, ZRP and the ZHRC should collaborate in the enforcement of the Political Parties’ Code of Conduct and the monitoring, documentation of human rights abuses as well as the creation of enforceable punitive measures against perpetrators of intimidation and violence,” she said.
Chipfunde Vava also called on voter registration education to be started forthwith to ensure that the mistrust over the process would not be alive when registration starts.
“Moreover, in order to allay the fears and concerns over the adoption of the BVR system timeous and comprehensive voter education and publicity campaigns by ZEC, political parties, civic organisations and other electoral stakeholders must begin forthwith,” she said.
Zec is yet to open calls to accredit civic society for the voter education saying they will only do so after procuring the BVR kits which will allow them to know what information has be included.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said after Tsvangirai’s tour, it was now on the party’s top agenda to deal with the fear factor ahead of the elections.
“We are working flat out to eliminate the fear factor amongst Zimbabweans, particularly the rural electorate. We are dealing with a ruthless regime that has, over the decades, hinged its power base on the pillars of intimidation, terror and violence,” he said.
He said MDC-T has walked into Zanu PF imposed no-go areas and engaged traditional leaders to ensure that fear was eliminated.