BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO, Matabeleland North and South, and Masvingo are likely to lose some constituencies in the next delimitation exercise while Harare, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central are expected to gain an average of two if findings of an independent electoral watchdog are anything to go by.
The delimitation research findings are contained in a Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) report unveiled in Bulawayo on Friday.
Zimbabwe last carried a delimitation exercise in 2007 ahead of the 2008 harmonised elections.
According to section 161 of the Constitution, electoral boundaries must be delimited once every 10 years after a census. This means the next exercise would be in 2023.
In its findings, Zesn said Bulawayo, among other provinces, will likely lose some constituencies owing to the low number of registered voters.
“There are provinces that will decrease in the total number of constituencies (Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, and Masvingo); there will be provinces with an increase in the number of constituencies based on the registered voters (Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central) and the number of constituencies in some provinces will remain unchanged (Mashonaland East and Midlands),” the report read.
Zesn said to calculate the proposed number of constituencies, the number of registered voters were divided by the total number of constituencies to obtain the average registered voters per constituency and, to find the number of constituencies per province, total provincial registered voters were divided by the average.
Bulawayo with 257 924 registered voters, Matabeleland North (338 593) and Matabeleland South (263 690) and Masvingo (616 079) will likely lose an average of two constituencies each, according to Zesn.
Harare with 899 333 registered voters will likely see an increase from 29 to 33 constituencies, Mashonaland West (654 272) 24 from the current 22 and Mashonaland Central (531 310) 18 to 20 constituencies, respectively.
Zesn noted that its findings give political parties and other stakeholders the opportunity to make meaningful representations about constituency boundaries redrawing to avoid controversies witnessed in the last delimitation exercise.
The 2007 exercise was dismissed by the opposition as favouring Zanu PF after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission allocated 143 constituencies to communal areas – the ruling party’s strongholds.