Byo councillors demand more wards

Source: Byo councillors demand more wards – NewsDay Zimbabwe

BULAWAYO councillors want the number of wards increased from 29 to 35 amid fears that the city could lose some constituencies in the next delimitation exercise, latest council minutes show.

City fathers made the request after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) requested the council to submit proposals on the delimitation of wards.

The minutes show that councillor Felix Mhaka recently supported the motion for an increase in wards citing a 2019 Zec notice for proposals on the delimitation exercise.

“The closing date for this exercise was June 15, 2022. He (Mhaka) had, therefore, raised the motion after considering a lot of issues such as the number of voters, the general population and the budget. After this consideration, suggestions were being made to increase Wards from current 29 to 35,” the minutes read.

“Ward 28 (Cowdray Park) currently has a total of 22 000 voters. With this number of voters it was possible to have two more wards created. The two new wards would take into consideration the peri-urban areas around Cowdray Park,” the minutes read.

It was noted that the minimum size of a ward could have a minimum 7 000 voters and a maximum of 10 500 voters.

“Ward 21 had a total of 10 000 voters while Ward 24 had 9 000 voters. Again another ward could be created within the area covered by the two wards. Ward 25 had 10 200 voters while ward 26 had 9 000. Another Ward could be created incorporating Upper Rangemore,” the minutes read.

“Ward 27 had 12 000 voters and it was very possible to create another Ward which would also incorporate Lower Rangemore. The initial proposal was to create 35 wards up from the current 29. The number of wards could further be increased up to 38 considering the number of voters and other information.”

Councillor Arnold Batirai’s view was that council input in the delimitation exercise was important and hence the motion to increase wards should be supported.

“Council needed to come up with its collective input in the exercise. Councillor Lilian Mlilo supported the motion. Suggestions and recommendations raised should be submitted to Zec. The City needed more wards in order to develop and have adequate representation of the citizens,” Batirai said according to the minutes.

“The city needed to expand. It was a requirement for Zec to consult key stakeholders and council as an institution was a key stakeholder.”

The town planning department presented a map explaining the administrative boundaries of the city.

The map also covered the areas that had been earmarked for incorporation in the expansion of the City. Indications were that the areas in the map had been included in the Master Plan.

“Currently two meetings have been held with Umguza Rural District Council (RDC) on the issues of incorporation. There was a committee which comprised financial directors and valuation officers from both local authorities that was tasked with dealing with compensation issues,” the minutes state.

“The town clerk Christopher Dube advised that Statutory Instrument 212 of 1999 had been considered in the administrative boundaries. Incorporation was in two fold which included voluntary incorporation by Presidential Proclamation. The Presidential Proclamation or the Master Plan approach could also be used. There were a number of settlements around the city that had requested Voluntary incorporation.”

Indications are that Bulawayo could possibly also lose two of its 12 constituencies owing to low numbers of registered voters.

A voter registration blitz by Zec did little to boost the numbers as the exercise was characterised by a low turnout.

Critics have blamed the low turnout on a number of factors, including poor timing, lack of voter education and identity documents.