THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been accused of being too secretive on the delimitation roadmap as opposition parties raised fears yesterday that the process could be rigged in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.
The concerns were raised by various electoral stakeholders including political parties during a Twitter space discussion hosted by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) on Wednesday.Zec did not attend the online discussion, despite having received an invitation from Zesn.
Zec says it has already deployed delimitation committees to various districts and provinces and the commission is hoping to have new constituency boundaries by December. Delimitation involves redrawing of electoral boundaries according to population sizes in the districts. The process is conducted every 10 years following a national census.
The last delimitation, conducted in 2008 in terms of the old Constitution and based on the Registrar-Generals’ voters roll, was disputed with critics and the opposition saying it was skewed in favour of the ruling party. The current exercise is being conducted using the April 2022 population and housing census data.
Political parties, however, said they were in the dark on how the electoral body was running the exercise.
Citizens Coalition for Change secretary for elections Ian Makone said: “The way Zec is carrying out the delimitations process is quite disturbing. Zec informed us that the most important aspect of the delimitation process is the voters roll. That has not been availed to our people. How will they confirm where they belong in terms of their constituencies in the absence of the voters roll? That alone raises questions on issues of transparency. Then there is the issue of engagement. We have written to Zec several times inquiring about the voters roll and demanding it to be availed to the public for inspection. However, we did not get any favoaurable response from Zec, which makes us question the credibility of the whole delimitation process.”
Gweru Urban MP Brian Dube (MDC Alliance) said: “Zec has not been keen on updating on the activities that they are doing. We need to have a statement from the Minister of Justice explaining in detail the process that has been done so far. The other challenge is that we don’t have a clear framework for complaints against Zec. In terms of how they have conducted themselves, they do not meet the minimum standards required in terms of the principles, guidelines and model laws of Sadc in terms of their character, attitude and behaviour especially in handling the preparations for next year’s elections.
Linda Masarira, leader of the Labour, Economists and African Democrats party said: “Whatever timetables Zec has set are just meant to theoretically fulfil the constitutional provision without taking into consideration the stakeholders and their input. There might be something clandestine happening between Zec and the ruling party because we are all being sidelined from knowing what process is taking place.”
Zimbabwe First (ZimFirst) secretary-general Tafadzwa Tom said: “The truth is there is no engagement whatsoever with Zec with regards to delimitation. We must work hand-in-hand with Zec in all its processes to pave way for a free, fair and credible election.”
Patriotic Zimbabweans (PZ)leader Charles Muchineripi-Mutama said lack of transparency had dented the credibility of the outcome of the delimitation exercise.
But Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana rubbished the accusations saying they have conducted engagement meetings with various stakeholders such as civil society organisations and traditional leaders on the upcoming delimitation.
“There are also other civic society organisations, which have submitted to the commission what they are calling proposed delimitation reports which they have done and the commission can only peruse, but that will not really define how we are going to be doing our processes,” Mangwana said.
“They are entitled to their own opinion, but as a commission we will follow the law and the Constitution. We cannot simply conclude the process because they have submitted documents. The commission is the one mandated by the law to carry out delimitation . . . they should allow the commission to do its work.”
Opposition parties raised fears that Zec may be conniving with Zanu PF, a charge vehemently denied by ruling party information director Tafadzwa Mugwadi.
“They must take their concerns to election authorities if they are genuine concerns. Their reason for taking them to pliant social media trolls and ghost platforms clearly attests to their mischief and lack of being genuine,” Mugwadi said.