IN a rare show of solidarity, legislators from across the political divide yesterday closed ranks to unanimously demand an electronic copy of the voters roll from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) before they could give an objective analysis of a preliminary delimitation report presented to the House by the electoral management body.
The delimitation report was tabled before Parliament yesterday.
Speaking in the National Assembly, the legislators said the voters roll and 2022 census report, geospatial maps and the Constitution were critical documents needed for analysing Zec’s delimitation report.
The parliamentarians set-up an ad hoc committee comprising 13 members to analyse the document.
The committee is chaired by Zanu PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi.
Marondera Central legislator Caston Matewu (CCC) said the voters roll was key in guiding debate on the delimitation report.
“Whilst we get this electronic preliminary delimitation report, it’s also imperative that we have the raw source document which is the voters roll for members to have proper debate and analysis,” Matewu said.
“There can be absolutely no debate without the electronic voters roll sent to all members. We need access to the electronic voters roll to give us pure data and to see exactly how the report was crafted.”
The delimitation report will be used to redraw electoral boundaries ahead of crunch polls later this year.
Zanu PF and its shadowy groupings have already poked holes into the report describing it as flawed and heavily tilted in favour of the opposition.
On Thursday, data analysts Team Pachedu said the document was based on a shambolic voters roll, hence should be rejected in its entirety.
Zec has been accused of refusing to release the voters’ roll for analysis. The electoral management body says the document contains voters’ personal details and cannot be made public.
In separate interviews, Zanu PF and opposition legislators said a soft copy of the voters roll would enable them to objectively analyse the delimitation report.
Harare East MP Tendai Biti (CCC) said: “We can’t analyse the report without the voters roll. Whether Zec likes it or not, it’s supposed to give us the voters roll.”
Biti said it was still premature for his party to take a position on the document before analysing it.
“We would look at whether Section 161 was adhered to, if there was no gerrymandering, creation of non-existent constituencies. We want to reach there, we just want to analyse. We will have a party position after the analysis,” he said.
Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna (Zanu PF) said: “The committee will be looking at the Electoral Act and a number of Acts of Parliament, the one which is so generic is the Constitution.
“I am sure that all subsidiary Acts and documents that need to be analysed will be availed to the committee and parliamentarians so that they will be able to make well-rounded decisions and recommendations to Zec”
Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (CCC) said the census report was also imperative when analysing the delimitation document.
In a related matter, legal think-tank Veritas dismissed Zec’s interim delimitation report as a nullity.
Veritas said President Emmerson Mnangagwa should have summoned Parliament to meet by January 3 after receiving the report on December 26 to allow Zec to table the final report before the end of the month.
“He should have summoned Parliament to meet by January 3, the latest. On the same construction, section 161(8) requires the President to return the preliminary report to Zec within 14 actual days from the date on which it should have been laid before Parliament, that is, by the 17th January,” Veritas said.
“Any failure to comply with the Constitution is to be deprecated, but in this case the failure probably does not invalidate what has been done so far because if it did it would mean that the entire delimitation process would be nullified because of a failure to meet a time-limit by a couple of days,”
“On the other hand, the failure to meet the constitutional time-limits does mean that publication of the final delimitation report will be pushed closer to the ultimate deadline, January 28, after which the new electoral boundaries cannot be used for the mid-year general election.”
Veritas said Zec will have only nine days to decide what to do following Parliament’s recommendations.