Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba has urged citizens to register to vote so that their constituencies are not affected by delimitation processes in 2022.
Delimitation is the process of dividing the country into constituencies and wards for the purpose of elections of persons to constituency seats in the National Assembly and of councillors to local authority.
Once every ten years, on date or within a period fixed by the commission so as to fall as soon as possible after a population census, ZEC must conduct a delimitation of the electoral boundaries .
Speaking on the side-lines of the commission’s strategic meeting in Bulawayo, Justice Chigumba said citizens need to register to vote so that their constituencies are not downsized.
“Please go and register to vote, it might affect your constituency boundaries when de-limitations are done, if you are less than 20 000 in your constituency then your constituency will be downsized,” she said.
Chigumba said delimitation process would begin soon after the 2022 national census..
“The constitution stipulates that we can only de-limit after a census, now if the census is due in 2022, we all know that the process will not take than 12 months to be done from experience from previous census.
“So that means we will probably get up to 2023 before the census is even finished and it will be unconstitutional for the election not to take place in 2023, so the questions that we were introspecting on are the following, does it necessitate a change of the constitution to divorce a census from de-limitation.
“If it necessitates a change in the constitution what do we want that provision in the constitution to be replaced with.
“In other words, if we are not going to use the number of people born in Zimbabwe in a census, what criteria are we going to use, can we use the number of registered voters as a replacement criteria and if we do that what is the scientific method of calculation that we should use, these are the things that we were discussing and introspecting on as a commission,” said Justice Chigumba .
“At the moment what we were discussing was probably a formula on the lines of number of registered voters which is something like 5.6 million divided by 210 constituencies as you know constituencies are entrenched in the constitution.
“That will give us a figure around 24 000, can we use that figure to delimit constituencies to say each constituency need to have minimum number of so many registered voters in order to attain so many seats.
“If we do that will that have a domanial effect, a replica effect on other provisions of the constitution and the electoral aspect because as you know in Zimbabwe its not compulsory to register to vote.”
Chigumba said the commission is running out of time to wait for an omnibus bill.
“I understand there is something called an omnibus bill which will encompass not only electoral reforms but also political and other reforms.
“Because if we talk about delimitation, we really don’t have time to wait for an omnibus bill which might take forever being debated on, in Parliament and so on. We have asked the task force to look at whether or not shorter bill can not be made just to deal with those aspects that need urgent changes,” she said.