Source: Apathy mars Mat voter registration exercise – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 21, 2017
THE low numbers recorded in Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and North in the ongoing voter registration exercise could come back to haunt the region when its constituencies are “cut” in a delimitation exercise scheduled for 2022.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Political parties, civic society organisations and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been urging people to register to vote in the 2018 elections, but figures released by the electoral body during the ongoing exercise have been disappointing.
Figures released by Zec show that only 675 762 people have registered to vote, with Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South lagging behind, a situation Gwanda-based commentator Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo said might cost the region in a delimitation exercise.
“A constituency is determined by the number of registered voters in an area.
“The truth is that if we don’t go and register as voters, we will lose some constituencies in the delimitation exercise. We will not lose constituencies into thin air, they will boost the Mashonaland region constituencies, where people are registering in numbers,” Fuzwayo, who is also the Gwanda Residents’ Association secretary, wrote in an analysis on the implications of not registering to vote.
Zec’s latest statistics show that as at October 17, Mashonaland East tops in the number of people registered to vote at 111 881, followed by Manicaland 109 607, Midlands 92 183, Masvingo 84 642, Mashonaland Central 82 493, Harare 80 192 and Mashonaland West 44 341, while Matabeleland South had registered 25 841, Matabeleland North 25 791 and Bulawayo 18 216.
The last delimitation exercise done ahead of the 2008 elections saw Zec allocating 143 constituencies to communal lands and the remaining 67 to urban and peri-urban areas from the 210 contested seats. The opposition described the exercise as biased in favour of Zanu PF.
Zec has said it will not conduct a new delimitation of constituencies and wards for the 2018 elections.
According to Section 161(1) of the Constitution, delimitation must take place “once every 10 years, on a date or within a period fixed by the Commission so as possible after a population census”.
The last census was held in 2012.
“Whether you will vote or not is something else, but we need to do it for our children. The next delimitation after the 2022 one will be around 2032 … we will have left our children with the burden of enduring limited representation …
“Honestly if one province in Mashonaland already has 90 000 registered voters and we have our three provinces having half the number of our people registered, who will we blame in the end when we lose constituencies to them?” Fuzwayo said.
Another Bulawayo commentator, Mlungusi Dube, argued citizens had been discouraged to register to vote by the opposition messages that cry rigging after losing the elections.
“The reason people are sort of reluctant to register could be results of past elections. There is also the opposition stance on boycotting by-elections in the last four years, have the reforms been implemented? By blaming rigging for their past losses, the opposition has also disheartened all those who want to vote for change, as they believe Zanu PF can always rig itself to victory,” Dube commented.