MATABELELAND region is likely to be the most affected as its constituencies are likely to be reduced if delimitation of boundaries set for 2022 is conducted, a survey carried out by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has revealed.
Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Masvingo are set to be the most affected.
However, to the contrary, provinces like Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland West, and Mashonaland Central are likely to have more constituencies.
Constituencies in Mashonaland East and Midlands will largely remain unchanged, according to Zesn.
Zesn estimates that the proposed number of constituencies is based on currently registered voters, as at February 2019.
The total number of registered voters’ is 5 686 121, as in the February 2019 voters’ roll.
Harare has the largest number of registered voters at 899 333, then Midlands with 760 615, Manicaland — 732 292, Mashonaland West — 654 272, Mashonaland East — 632 013, and Bulawayo had the least number of registered voters at 257 924.
“Applying the +/- 20 percent threshold provided for in the Constitution gave these figures; the lowest number of registered voters expected for any constituency would be 21 662, the average will be 27 077 and the highest number of registered voters expected would be 32 493. For the purposes of this research, the average was used to provide an overall picture.”
According to Zesn, Bulawayo, which currently has 12 constituencies, would most likely end up with 10. Matabeleland North is likely to reduce from 13 constituencies to 12 while Matabeleland South will end up with 10 constituencies from 13. Harare with 29 constituencies will increase to 33.
Delimitation of boundaries is critical to the electoral outcome as it would map out constituencies and wards in which people exercise their right to vote.
Zimbabwe last conducted the delimitation exercise in 2007, shortly before the harmonised elections held in March 2008.
The 2018 harmonised elections used the constituency boundaries mapped in 2007.
The 2013 Constitution provided a new legal framework for delimitation, and Section 161 of the Constitution provides for Electoral boundaries to be delimited once every 10 years after a population census.
The next population census will be conducted in 2022, a year before the next electoral cycle.
To calculate the proposed number of constituencies, Zesn used a formula which involved dividing numbers of registered voters by the total number of constituencies to obtain the average registered voters per constituency.
Zesn said delimitation of boundaries is a key aspect of the electoral process as it has an effect on numbers that are in a constituency and ward since the country’s predominant system of voting is the First-Past-the-Post system based on voters electing their representatives based on constituencies and wards.