THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has begun drawing up new National Assembly constituency boundaries that will be used for the 2023 harmonised elections.
ZEC has started undertaking the first phase of the delimitation exercise, which involves updating polling stations and adding new residential areas into the voter registration database ahead of next year’s boundary mapping process.
The elections management body has begun mobilising $10 billion required for the expansive nationwide exercise, which is carried out after every 10 years.
The Sunday Mail has gathered that delimitation will be undertaken in three phases, starting with a mass voter registration blitz, which has already commenced under Phase One.
Under Phase Two, ZEC will begin marking new constituency boundaries using data obtained under the initial phase.
The second phase will take six months to complete.
Phase Three, which will take a month to complete, will witness the production and distribution of the final delimitation report ahead of the elections.
ZEC chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said the delimitation exercise will take two years to conclude.
“In total the exercise requires around $10,6 billion to cater for preparations, procurement of vehicles and equipment, establishment of ICT infrastructure, training of staff and stakeholders, production of voter education material, publicity and awareness campaigns, fieldwork and production and distribution of the delimitation report among others,” said Mr Silaigwana.
“The delimitation exercise has three phases.
“Phase One, which has already started, will run up to early next year and includes a mobile voter registration drive that will be conducted.
“Phase Two of the delimitation, which will take approximately six months, will commence early next year.”
He said the commencement date of Phase Two will be informed by the completion of preparatory activities, including the mobile voter registration campaign and procurement lead times.
“Phase Three includes the enactment, production and distribution of the final delimitation report which will take approximately one and half months.”
Delimitation involves coming up with a minimum threshold of registered voters to make the country’s 210 National Assembly constituencies, and is conducted using the number of registered voters in an administrative jurisdiction.
Zimbabwe goes for its harmonised elections in 2023 and ZEC is required by law to draw new electoral boundaries, at least six months before the elections.
Mr Silaigwana said under Phase One, ZEC will this year focus on creating a delimitation roadmap and train staff on the use of Geographical Information System (GIS) software for mapping and data analysis.
“ZEC will focus on the updating of polling area descriptions in aspects such as, properties found within and new infrastructure.
“Developments take place continually in communities with construction projects resulting in new schools, dams, roads, business centres, churches and so on.
“Additionally, addresses of new residential areas need to be captured. There are new settlements that continue to develop in most areas.
“These developments need to be incorporated into the voter registration address database,” he said.
The capturing of addresses for prospective registrants will ensure that they are posted to the correct polling station, in a particular ward and constituency.
“This is critical since we have now migrated from the ward-based voters roll to polling station specific voters roll and as such, a person will appear on only one polling station.”
Mr Silaigwana said training will focus on the steps involved in the delimitation process, the legal framework, the criteria used, and apportionment of seats.
“In our case we will train staff to use Geographical Information System (GIS) software for mapping and data analysis.
“We have to train staff to use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to capture geographic co-ordinates primarily of polling stations.”
Political analyst, Mr Godwine Mureriwa urged political parties to mobilise their supporters to register to vote.
“President Mnangagwa is on record as saying there will be electoral reforms and now that the preparatory work of the delimitation exercise has started, it is also important for political parties at Parliament level to begin advocating for electoral reforms,” said Mr Mureriwa.
“This is now the time to begin and not when elections are due or when they are completed.
“It is also the time for political parties to know the country’s demography before elections are due.”
Findings from a recent research on prospects of delimitation conducted by independent elections civil group — Zimbabwe Election Support Network — established that using the legally established threshold for delimitation, National Assembly constituencies should have an average 27 000 voters.
Reads the ZESN report: “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.”
Section 161 (3) of the Constitution states that: “The boundaries of constituencies must be such that, so far as possible, at the time of delimitation, equal numbers of voters are registered in each constituency within Zimbabwe.”