Dump, rework delimitation: Mutambara 

Source: Dump, rework delimitation: Mutambara –Newsday Zimbabwe

Arthur Mutambara

FORMER Deputy Prime minister in the 2009-2013 Government of National Unity (GNU), Arthur Mutambara says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) must redo the delimitation exercise as he dismissed the preliminary delimitation report as invalid and unconstitutional.

The preliminary report was tabled in Parliament last week on Friday.

Critics — who include renowned parliamentary and legal watchdog Veritas and former Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Elton Mangoma — have poked holes into the report accusing the electoral management body of gerrymandering and using a wrong formula on how constitutional boundaries are supposed to be redrawn.

A leader of a Zanu PF affiliate, Tonderai Chidawa — who fronts the Zimbabwe Youth Action Platform — has also challenged the authenticity of the report and sensationally claimed that Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and her deputy Rodney Simukai Kiwa hijacked the preliminary report and that other commissioners were not consulted.

Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who presented the report in Parliament said the total number of registered voters was divided by 210 constituencies resulting in a national average of 27 640 voters per constituency.

Ziyambi said they used the formula to determine voter population thresholds permissible in line with section 161(6) of the Constitution.

A percentage variance from the national average was then determined using a maximum registered voter threshold of 33 169 and a minimum of 22 112 voters.

But Mutambara said Zec misinterpreted the Constitution.

“The delimitation process has to be redone according to Section 161 (6) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The current delimitation report is invalid since it is in violation of the current Constitution of Zimbabwe’s Section 161 (6),” Mutambara said.

“Of course, in carrying out the delimitation exercise, there must be no mischievous intention to disadvantage or advantage any political players. There must be safeguards against such shenanigans.”

Mutambara added: “The current Constitution of Zimbabwe’s Section 161 (6) looks similar, but is different from Section 61A(6) of the old Lancaster House Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“Section 161 (6) stipulates that the difference between the allowable minimum and maximum voters in a constituency should be less than 20%, whereas Section 61A (6) (Lancaster Constitution) stipulates that difference should be less than 40% (ie 20% + 20%).

“It is important to note that the old Lancaster provision 61A (6) is better phrased than the current provision 161 (6). Section 161 (6) should have explicitly said 10% above or below the average number of voters allowable in a constituency.”

The last delimitation exercise was held in 2008.

Opposition parties queried that exercise as well, arguing it exposed glaring gerrymandering in favour of the ruling Zanu PF.

According to section 161 of the country’s constitution adopted in 2013, electoral boundaries must be delimited once every 10 years after a population census.

Parliamentarians last week demanded the voters roll to enable them to critique the delimitation report.

Some Zanu PF shadowy groupings have dismissed the delimitation report as flawed, and called on the ruling party not to endorse it.

Zec chairperson Chigumba and her deputy Kiwa are reportedly facing a rebellion from some commissioners who are said to have refused to endorse the report tabled in Parliament.

The commissioners, in a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, reportedly demanded that the draft delimitation report be “put aside” and that elections should be held using old boundaries from the last delimitation exercise of 2008.

According to a report by an online news outlet ZimLive, Mnangagwa loyalists, Ziyambi, have reportedly told the Zanu PF leader that the draft delimitation report was a “mathematical exercise” designed to deny him a sweeping parliamentary majority, while boosting the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change’s electoral chances.

According to ZimLive, Ziyambi and justice ministry secretary Virginia Mabhiza allegedly told Mnangagwa that Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was believed to be behind a sophisticated plot to remove him from power after the elections by working with Zanu PF members of Parliament loyal to him and those from the CCC.

The report allegedly said Mnangagwa loyalists accuse Zec of collapsing seven constituencies currently occupied by MPs aligned to the Zanu PF leader — Mberengwa South, Bulilima East, Gutu South, Zaka East, Zaka West, Chikomba Central and Musikavanhu.