Last week’s tabling of the draft delimitation report before a parliamentary adhoc committee for scrutiny has revealed glaring inconsistences and irregularities by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), as the country prepares for harmonised elections scheduled towards the later part of 2023.
Zimbabwe has experienced difficult moments with regards to conducting elections; from the 2000 referendum, 2008 violent election to formulation of the 2013 constitution as well as the 2018 disputed election.
President Emerson Mnangagwa had to cut short his annual leave to receive the ZEC draft report which he then forwarded to Parliament for scrutiny. The Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mdenda was however not there to chair proceedings and this raised concerns with his fellow legislators.
A legislator who chose to be anonymous told Post On Sunday that, the whole thing “Draft Delimitation report” was politically motivated and having Hon Tatenda Mavetera to chair the process was not proper given her political standing in the house as well as previous conduct during sessions. Addressing the Speaker, Citizen Coalition for Change member, Edwin Mushoriwa said, “I do not have any misgivings in terms of having the Ad hoc committee set. What we need are the terms of reference to be clear, to simply say an analysis was not proper.”
Mavetera as usual failed to take heed to the legislator’s call, and proceeded with of the day.
Marondera Central legislator, Caston Matewu told parliament that,
“Since we have received the Draft Delimitation report in electronic format, it is imperative to also have the associated raw source document (Voters Roll) of the report because this is where the delimitation report was derived from. For proper debate and analysis, we need access to the electronic voters’ roll.”
The delimitation process has raised a lot of dust ahead of the general elections expected in a few months from now. Politicians, analysts, civic society groups and ordinary people continue to express serious concerns around the manner in which ZEC conducted its duties.
Independent legislator for Norton Constituency, Temba Mliswa told the Post on Sunday that, Parliament has been leaving him out in so many parliament business as an independent member representing independent citizens.
“Maybe for my ability to speak the truth and against corruption,” said Mliswa.
“The exercise must be transparent, creating a free, fair and credible atmosphere for elections. People must be given the information that they require, especially the voters’ roll,” added Mliswa.
“There is too much interference by the executive and the central intelligence (CIO) in the independent commissions. Not enough ground work was done, and people don’t have information, such as the report being published in all 16 official languages,” said Mliswa.
Speaking to the Post on Sunday, Mliswa said, “What we want is team Zimbabwe in everything we do. We have people who don’t stand for what they believe. People think that the delimitation process is to give the ruling Zanu PF party mileage by creating new boundaries.”
The Opposition in Zimbabwe and legal gurus are describing the situation as a creation of confusion ahead of crucial time.
The March 2022 by-election presented different challenges including the changing of polling stations by ZEC without the consent and knowledge of the voters. The shift was regarded as a ZEC tool to assist Zanu PF to rig and win elections.
Election watchdogs Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) engaged in awareness campaigns encouraging people to check the Voters Roll.
According to ZEC, the over 200 thousand errors were found in the voters roll and are reported to have rectified.
Quite a number of people discovered that their names were not in the voters roll during the blitz abd some gad to go and register for the second time even after casting their votes in 2018.
Some sections of the ruling Zanu PF party have proposed to use the old boundaries while others are proposing new boundaries. However, opposition political parties have since requested for the voters’ roll which ZEC is not willing to oblige.
Ordinary citizens including some members of Parliament don’t understand the delimitation process which is by law supposed to be carried out after every 10 years. ZIMSTAT has since produced a 2022 National Census preliminary report and Director General; Taguma Mahonde told this publication that the final report is almost ready with no difference with the preliminary report on figures.
The Citizens Coalition For Change has issued a statement and told journalists in Harare that despite their participation in previous meetings with ZEC, their concerns must be regarded as a road map to election.
Spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere said all Constitutional requirements must be met to achieve a free, fair and credible election this year, beginning with the voters roll which was used to create new boundaries.
Mahere said the delimination exercise s a Constitutional requirement, and it should be done transparently with all interested parties involved in the process being able to satisfactorily agree with the process and their plea is to have the raw data, the electronic voters roll which is by law an accessible public document.
Political member Elton Mangoma, lawyer prof Lovemore Madhuku hae since written to ZEC regarding the report and the institution in its failure to interpret and meet with the requirements of section 161 (16).
Citizens of Zimbabwe are now waiting for parliament’s response to the report and concerns raised by interested parties.