Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency should conclude the population census by July next year, instead of 2022, to allow the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to use the information to delimitate constituencies for the 2023 harmonised elections, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.
He said this on Wednesday while steering the Census and Statistics Amendment Bill. Traditionally the population census is held after every 10 years, implying that the next census was due in 2022 since the last exercise was done in 2012.
The Census and Statistics Amendment Bill, which sailed through the National Assembly, seeks to align the decennial national census to enable ZEC take into account census data when delimitating election boundaries.
Minister Ziyambi said in terms of the law, delimitation of electoral boundaries must be completed less than six months before polling day in a general election, and if that fails to happen boundaries that existed before the delimitation would be applicable. He said using old constituency boundaries would not be consistent with the legal requirement that equal number of voters be registered in each constituency.
“It is now seven years into the new Constitution; we are faced with the undesirable prospect of using the same electoral boundaries as were used back in the 2013 general election for two reasons. The first is that the next census is only due to be completed in 2022. Even if all the data for 2022 was availed timeously, that still brings us uncomfortably close within the range of six months of the next election in 2023. Secondly, ZEC will simply not have the time to do the consultation, produce the report and lay before Parliament its preliminary and final delimitation reports to enable Parliament and the President to properly consider them. Remember also Madam Speaker that voter registration is done on a continuous basis by ZEC.”
He said it was important that ZEC depended on reliable, up-to-date data for its delimitation exercise.
“The only achievable one in the short time available to us before the next delimitation, is to amend the Census and Statistics Act so as to align the taking of decennial national census in a manner that will enable the ZEC to take into account census data in timeous fashion,” said Minister Ziyambi.