Zimbabwe Politics

Under pressure from Zanu PF, ZEC commissioners reject the delimitation recommendations

The Commissioners further claim that the report does not inspire trust among stakeholders who are concerned about potential gerrymandering in the poll-based paper

Seven of Zimbabwe’s nine Commissioners have written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and parliament, rejecting the draft delimitation report, which Zanu PF strategists claim is a “palace coup” against Zimbabwe’s incumbent.

The declaration coincides with a letter to Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda from Harare lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, who claims the report is the work of one or two commissioners, ZEC boss Priscilla Chigumba and her deputy Rodney Simukai Kiwa.

The crucial electoral document tabled before parliament on Friday has sparked some internal squabbling within Zanu PF, with a party faction aligned with Mnangagwa seeking the abandonment of the electoral boundaries report in favor of the 2018 one, arguing that it stacks the odds in favor of the opposition.

The pressure seems to have come to bear within the country’s election administration body with seven commissioners disowning the paper which they claim “is not people centric and not in an intelligible manner”.

“Recognizing the necessity to ensure the integrity of the delimitation process by non-deviation from considerations outlined in section 161 (6) of the Constitution,” says part of the letter.

“Further recognising that the 2023 Harmonised Elections should be conducted in the next few months, and the need for the Constitution to create a Voters Roll that resonates with the new boundaries. This is impossible with the remaining time.”

The Commissioners further contend the report does not inspire confidence among stakeholders who fear potential gerrymandering in the poll based document.

“Concerned that the current draft delimitation proposal does not meet the minimum standards expected regarding transparent procedures that strengthen stakeholders’ confidence and dispel potential gerrymandering allegations; and further concerned that the current delimitation proposal is not people centred and not in an understandable format; we hereby resolve to put aside the current draft delimitation proposal except as a reference point for a proper delimitation process to be conducted and wholly guided by Commissioners after the 2023 harmonised elections,” reads the correspondence.

Riding on the divisions within ZEC, one Tonderai Chidawa, a registered voter based in Harare’s Mount Pleasant constituency, claims the report “is not an act of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, as a corporate”.

He attached the ZEC Commissioners letter in his own letter to parliament, insisting “the contents of that document speak for themselves: the seven commissioners are not party to the preliminary delimitation report that is now before parliament”.

“My client wants parliament to answer the following question truthfully, in the interests of constitutionalism and democracy, is the preliminary delimitation report now before parliament an act of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, as a body corporate or is the act of one or two commissioners,” he says.

Chidawa wants parliament to debate the source of ZEC divisions and contends that should be enough to cause the abandonment of the report.

Zimbabwe heads for polls later this year with electoral players keen on having a say in processes leading to the high stakes plebiscite.

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