THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday announced the number of House of Assembly constituencies in the country’s 10 provinces for
next year’s general elections, and vowed to go ahead with the delimitation exercise despite protests from the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction.
Commission chairman Justice George Chiweshe told a press conference that the determination of constituencies in the provinces was arrived at after dividing the number of registered voters that stood at 5 612 464 by the 210 House of Assembly seats to get an average of 26 726,02 voters a constituency.
He said after rounding off to the nearest whole number the answers representing the average number of constituencies that should be delimited in each province added up to 211 constituencies instead of the required 210.
To resolve the issue, Chiweshe said the commission adopted two methods to get the desired result.
“The decimals of the figures representing the average number of constituencies per province were arranged in the descending order. Only provinces with decimal figures of five and above were first considered for rounding off to the nearest whole number,” Chiweshe said.
“Seven provinces had decimal figures of five and above. However, if all were to be rounded off to the nearest whole number, the effect would have been the same as illustrated above. Thus only those provinces with decimal figures of six and above were rounded off to the nearest 10 in order to get rid of the extra constituency.”
As a result Matabeleland North ended up having 13 constituencies, Mashonaland West 22, Matabeleland South 13, Bulawayo 12, Harare 29, Midlands 28, Manicaland 26, Mashonaland Central 18, Mashonaland East 23 and Masvingo 26.
On MDC claims that ZEC was using a flawed voters’ roll to draw up constituencies, Chiweshe said the opposition had not provided evidence to that effect.
“The MDC wrote to us with that complaint and we have replied to them in confidence. However, there will be complaints and compliments along the way, some valid and some not,” Chiweshe said.
“Sometimes people make allegations without giving facts and evidence. On the face of it, we don’t see that the voters’ roll is in a shamble. I am not saying the voters’ roll is perfect, but it is credible.”
Tsvangirai’s faction wrote to Chiweshe last Thursday saying the delimitation exercise should be stopped to allow the conclusion of the Sadc initiated talks between the opposition and Zanu PF aimed at finding a lasting solution to the country’s political and economic crisis.
The party claimed that ZEC was being used by Zanu PF to rig next year’s harmonised presidential, legislative and council elections. But Chiweshe said the process was transparent and democratic.
The ZEC boss said the delimitation of constituencies and ward boundaries had started and the commission had set up provincial and district committees in terms of the provisions of the ZEC Act to spearhead the process.
He said the commission had incorporated two geographers from the country’s tertiary institutions to assist as technical experts.
“A technical committee comprising the chairperson of the commission and the two geographers will advise the commission on the technical aspects of the exercise,” Chiweshe said.
The commission will be assisted by a secretariat comprising various experts from institutions relevant to the delimitation exercise such as the surveyor general’s office, ministry of local government and the Registrar-General’s Office, among others.
Chiweshe said the commission would come up with senatorial constituencies and wards after the delimitation of the House of Assembly constituencies.
He said next year’s polls would use ward-based voters rolls.
“It is also pertinent to mention that that the 2008 harmonised elections will be ward based and as such voters are urged to acquaint themselves with their local government ward boundaries as their names will only appear in their ward’s voters roll and nowhere else,” Chiweshe said.