‘Delimitation to ensure 2018 poll credibility’

Source: ‘Delimitation to ensure 2018 poll credibility’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 13, 2017

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec) failure to conduct a proper delimitation exercise ahead of the 2018 elections will cast doubt on the credibility and legitimacy of the results, legislative watchdog, Veritas has said.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

The last delimitation exercise was done ahead of the 2008 elections, conducted in terms of the old constitution and based on the Registrar-General’s voters’ roll and the opposition described the exercise as biased in favour of Zanu PF.

Zec allocated 143 constituencies to communal lands and the remaining 67 to urban and peri-urban areas from the 210 contested seats. The opposition parties queried the outcome, arguing this was a deliberate plan, as Zanu PF had since independence received its main support from rural areas.

“Failure to conduct a proper delimitation before the 2018 election, is likely to affect the credibility and legitimacy of the electoral outcome,” Veritas said in a commentary

“There was cause for concern that the electoral boundaries in the 2013 elections were not accurate or representative of the voter population distribution.

“That risk will be higher in the 2018 elections. The object of delimitations is to ensure that each person’s vote is equal to every other person’s vote.”

Zec has said it does not intend to conduct a new delimitation of constituencies and wards for the 2018 elections and will conduct the elections on the basis of the constituencies and wards gazetted ahead of the 2008 elections.

According to section 161(1) of the Constitution, delimitation must take place “once every 10 years, on a date or within a period fixed by the commission”.
This, Veritas said, should be done after a population census.

The last census was held in 2012, and Veritas advised Zec to conduct a new delimitation exercise – the first under a new Constitution. Veritas said this is necessary to guarantee poll credibility.

“If there are significant differences in the number of voters in each constituency, the votes cast by voters in constituencies with fewer voters will count for more than the votes cast in constituencies with larger numbers of voters.

“Delay in holding a new delimitation may mean that constituencies and wards vary by more than the 20% difference prescribed by the Constitution, resulting in court challenges,” Veritas argued.

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